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Football giants APOEL reach crossroads

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Cyprus football giants APOEL Nicosia needs a rich investor to dig them out from the crushing weight of over €30 mln accumulated debt to return to the glory days.

During the Annual General Meeting of APOEL FC Ltd, the company set up by the club to run the football team, Chairman Prodromos Petrides acknowledged the club could not play catch up with teams backed by wealthy foreign investors.

Smaller clubs such as Aris Limassol and Pafos FC were taken over by wealthy investors who turned their flagging fortunes around.

Two years after taking over Aris Limassol, Belarusian Vladimir Federov, led the team from traditional underdogs to winning the championship last season.

At APOEL’s AGM, Petrides said the club’s hopes for recovery rely on efforts to find an investor while also building their own stadium that would generate profits.

Currently, the Nicosia club plays its games at the GSP stadium for an annual fee of €500,000.

APOEL Nicosia is the island’s most successful club, with 28 national championships, 21 cups, and 13 super cups, and reached the quarterfinals of the prestigious Champions League.

Petrides admitted failure to reach the group stages of a European tournament in the past three years had deprived the club of the necessary income to maintain its competitive edge.

According to the club’s financial statements, APOEL posted €6,953,180 losses for the fiscal year of 2022, pushing its overall debt to a whopping €34,053,724.

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

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

Pafos FC and Aris Limassol have a much larger budget as they now rely on wealthy Russian investors.

Pafos FC reported a whopping income of €17,063,306, more than double what the club had reported for 2021 while spending close to €15 mln.

Boosted by new cash from its investor, Aris reported the third-largest profit of €1,521,835, boasting an income of €11,592,294.

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

APOEL’s chair told the AGM that the board had commissioned a US-based firm specialising in sports investments to find a suitable investor.

Stadium revenue

Petrides promised shareholders the club would move to its own ground by 2026.

Owning its stadium will see the club generate more income.

APOEL is only negotiating with a strategic investor for the stadium, as the land has already been purchased.

Petrides admitted finding an investor and building their own stadium will take time while the club continues to be saddled with debt.

This means the club will have to drop its budget significantly, keeping away from expensive transfers and players on high salaries.

Petrides said that a ceiling of €220,000 on players’ annual salary will be set. In recent years, the club has focused on bringing in quality players, regardless of their salary.

“Reducing the budget is necessary, but this does not mean that quality transfers cannot be made.

“Players of €200,000 can make a difference, but we will have to make the right choices and avoid mistakes of the last years,” Petrides said.

APOEL urgently needs cash, as the club has to pay off old debts to players and staff to avoid being sanctioned by the European Footballing authorities.

Petrides said that APOEL has recently paid off €1 mln in settlements, while the club needs to find an additional €800,000 for settlements for June to meet UEFA’s Financial Fair Play criteria.

APOEL needs a successful campaign in Europe to improve the balance sheet.

They face Serbian outfit FK Vojvodina in the second preliminary round of the Europa Conference League, with the first game on 27 July at the GSP stadium and away on 3 August in Serbia.

The team needs three qualification round wins to enter the group stage.

Should the Nicosia club reach the group stage of the Conference League, they will earn a minimum of €2.94 mln.

Prize money

A team winning a group stage fixture in the UEFA Europa Conference League gets €500,000, while a draw earns €166,000.

While Cypriot football giants are going through a rough patch, underdog Aris Limassol which lifted the club’s first championship, their only title in its 93-year history, is set to generate more cash.

The Limassol outfit will start its campaign in the second preliminary round of the Champions League.

As Aris did not earn any points in a European contest so far, it is participating with a national ranking of 4,895 points.

This means that they will be unseeded, going up against tougher sides.

However, they get three chances to reach at least the group stage of a European tournament.

Should they pull off at least one qualification, Aris will find themselves in the group stage of the Conference League, earning a minimum of €2.94 mln.

A team winning a group stage fixture in the UEFA Europa Conference League gets €500,000, while a draw earns €166,000.

Qualifying for the UEFA Europa League group stage sees each team earning €3.63 mln.

Teams in the group stage get €630,000 per match victory and €210,000 per match drawn.

Should Aris make it to the Champions League Playoffs, one step before the CL group stage, the club will bank an additional €5 mln.

In the best-case scenario, in which Aris makes it to the CL group stage, they will receive a minimum of €15.64 mln.