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Cyprus football giants going under

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Smaller clubs see flagging fortunes turn, as investors pump fresh cash

Cyprus football is in financial trouble, as nine out of the 14 topflight teams have lost a combined €18 mln in the fiscal year 2022, with the island’s largest clubs amongst those to close their books in the red, adding to their ever growing debt.

Nine teams playing in the first division in this season’s championship have recorded combined losses of €18,304,585. The list of money losing clubs includes football giants APOEL Nicosia, Omonia Nicosia, Apollonas Limassol and Anorthosis Famagusta.

The list also includes AEL Limassol, Karmiotissa FC, Paralimni, Doxa, and Olympiakos Nicosia.

The island’s most successful team, APOEL Nicosia, with 28 national championships, 21 cups, and 13 super cups, and a qualification to the quarterfinals of the prestigious Champions’ League under its belt, reported almost €7 mln in damages.

The Nicosia club reported a total of €6,953,180 in losses, pushing its overall debt to a whopping €34,053,724.

Last year proved to be disastrous, as the financial statements revealed that APOEL had revenues of €9.4 mln, including from European games, ticket sales and TV rights.

The operating expenses of the football squad, recorded as “cost of sales” amounted to €14,061,926, administrative expenses €905,091 and other expenses of €1,000,000.

In total, the club, run by APOEL FC Ltd, needed more than €15 mln to operate the football team in 2022.

Anorthosis Famagusta, another traditionally big Cypriot club, reported damages of €4,655,595, pushing its overall debt to €12,799,002, of which some 4 mln are owed to the state in unpaid social insurance contributions.

Anorthosis reported revenues of €4,657,364 compared to €8,990,016 in 2021, much of which came from participation in the Europa Conference League group stage. The expenses of the football department (payroll and operational), as well as administrative expenses, commissions to agents and other expenses amounted to €8,981,734.

Anorthosis had a disappointing season, as despite qualifying for the group stage of the Europa Conference League, it found itself playing in the relegation zone playoffs, currently safe at seventh spot.

Topflight AEL Limassol’s total debt amounts to €12,264,554, as the club reported damages of €2,618,068 in 2022. The budget of the Limassol team was increased by €1,360,005 for the current season.

Last year’s champions Apollon Limassol saw its overall debt reach €14,018,160, as it reported losses of €1,852,275.

Apollon Limassol had made it to the group stage of the Europa Conference League, bagging around €4 mln from its European campaign.

Last year’s cup winners, Omonia Nicosia reported losses of €1,124,098, while their debt shoot up to €22,202,035. Omonia officials do not appear concerned over the large debt, noting that half of it, involves loans from the team’s New York based investor Stavros Papastavrou.

“It’s like Stavros owing to Papastavrou,” a team source told the Financial Mirror.

Omonia is currently sixth, out of the championship race, but will have a chance to defend its Cup title at the final to take place on 24 May in Nicosia.

Five teams in the black

Only five teams were able to finish the year in the black, with total profits of €6 mln, with AEK Larnaca’s stunning European success reeling in a third of the profits. The team reported profits of €2,136,268.

The Larnaca team is followed by Paphos FC and Aris Limassol with profits of €1,521,835 and €1,012,714, respectively. The two were taken over in recent years by Russian investors, pumping in serious cash into the clubs.

The top five list is completed by Nea Salamina Famagusta with a profit of €367,286 and Akritas Chlorakas with €48,897, respectively.

According to the Larnaca club’s financial statements submitted to the Cyprus Football Association, AEK had income of €11,592,180.

The largest portion of AEK’s 2022 income was from European achievements with €5,353,435, from operating income €2,198,738 and TV rights €1,320,000. From advertisements and sponsorships, the club pulled in another €1,214,539.

AEK also ended 2021 with a profit, although much smaller (€584,793), which was attributed mainly to good management.

AEK is currently third in the championship, but had a successful run in the Europa Conference League, reaching the final 16 of the tournament, where it was knocked out by Premier League outfit West Ham United.

Pafos FC reported a whopping income of €17,063,306, more than double of what the club had reported for 2021. The Paphos side in its financial statements said that it had spent €13,265,281 for the operation of the team and another €1,935,122 in administration fees.

Pafos’ income surpassed AEK’s reported €11,592,180 income, following a successful European campaign. The team has a loyal fanbase of 5,000 to 6,000.

The club’s financial record is impressive for a team that was formed just nine years ago, in 2014, from the union of AEP Pafos and AEK Kouklion, starting from the second division.

Pafos FC finished second in the second division, earning a ticket to the topflight in 2015, only to be relegated the next season. It returned to the first division the following year.

In 2017, Pafos FC remained in the top division, finishing in tenth place under the leadership of their new owner, Total Sports Investments, managed by British businessman Roman Dubov.

The owners of the club have turned the club’s flagging fortunes around, with the team currently fourth, in the fight for a ticket to the Europa Conference League reserved for the second and third place.

Aris Limassol, a traditional underdog in the topflight division, is currently leading the championship race, three points ahead of second APOEL Nicosia, with three games to go.

The Limassol outfit reported the third largest profit, while boasting income of €1,012,714, boasting income of €11,592,294.

A total of €7,092,452 went into the team, while another €3,427,679 to administration costs.

One of the founder members of the Cyprus Football Association, Aris, has only recently made its way to the top half of the championship, following a 2021 takeover by Russian investor Vladimir Federov, who intends to transform Aris into one of the elite clubs of Cyprus.

In the 2021-2022 season, Aris finished fourth in the league, earning qualification for the 2022-23 UEFA Europa Conference League, the first time the club had ever qualified for a European tournament.

They made their European debut in the second qualifying round against Neftci Baku, and despite a 2-0 win at home, Aris lost 3-0 in the second tie, and was eliminated.

In eighth place in the topflight division, Nea Salamina Famagusta closed the year with a profit of €367,286.

Akritas Chlorakas, currently in the last spot of the division, almost certainly relegated, reported a profit of €48,897.