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New era for Omonia Nicosia

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Fans of Cypriot football giants Omonia Nicosia are optimistic the club will reclaim its glorious past following the tweaking of the management deal between the club and millionaire Stavros Papastavrou.

Club members greenlighted the agreement, turning a management contract struck with Papastavrou in 2018 into an open-ended ownership deal, allowing the investor more room to fulfil his vision for the team.

New York-based Papastavrou in June resigned from his position as chairman, prompted by failed discussions with the club to alter the management deal.

He tabled a proposal to the club to see the deal go from a 10+5+5-year agreement for the football team’s management to open-ended ownership, arguing the time limit would not allow him to make gains on further investments.

“We have plans to build something great here with Omonia, but under new circumstances, I need to feel secure over my investment,” said Papastavrou.

He argued the deal needed to be altered.

However, it was against his principles to go back on an agreement because Cypriot football has become more competitive with the arrival of more investors in other teams.

Aris Limassol has gone from a club frequently demoted to the second division to becoming the 2023 Champions in just two years after being taken over by Russian investor Vladimir Fedorov.

An initial proposal was rejected by the club, with Papastavrou resigning.

However, both sides believed that a formula needed to be found for the club to avoid financial turbulence.

The new deal, brokered with an 88% yes vote by club members, will see the club become a partner in the company, with a 20% share.

The deal is seen as a win-win situation, as Omonia will partake by 2025 in the company’s earnings but not losses.

Papastavrou argued that the value of Cypriot football clubs is zero and “the only way for a Cypriot club to gain value is to acquire assets such as a football stadium”.

He said the club would have its own stadium within five years if the deal continues.

Omonia’s sole investor has promised to raise the club’s value to €70 mln.

Promises

The new deal was approved by the club’s board last month and was brokered on 12 July, with the approval of an extraordinary general assembly.

Since then, Papastavrou has made good on his promise to improve the football team, spending good money to bring in signings that have pleased fans.

Cape Verde international Willy Semedo, a former Pafos FC player sold to a Saudi Arabian club for €1.2 mln last year, is one of the club’s five signings.

Although a fee was not disclosed, it is understood the administration spent “serious money” on the transfer of the 28-year-old winger.

Montenegro international midfielder Novica Erakovic, 23, was also signed along with Brazilian left-back Marquinhos Cipriano and Senou Coulibaly, a Malian international defender with experience from the French Ligue 1.

The latest addition was winger Veljko Simic, 28, an international with Serbia.

One of the clauses that sweetened the pie for club members was that Papastavrou committed to building the team its own stadium.

According to Financial Mirror information, Papastavrou plans to go ahead with the plan to build the stadium on a plot of land on the outskirts of the capital.

The construction of the stadium, estimated to have a capacity of 15,000, is expected to cost around €30 mln and will be a category 4 facility.

Stadiums in this category can host UEFA Champions League qualifying play-offs and group-stage games.

Category 4 is also required to host any UEFA Europa League main stage or European Football Championship game.

It is estimated the Nicosia Greens will also be entitled to an €11 mln grant from the state’s Cyprus Sports Organisation.

The club’s flagging fortunes were revived after being taken over by millionaire Papastavrou in 2018.

Following a disappointing first year, Omonia was awarded the first spot in the 2019-2020 season, which was interrupted by the COVID pandemic.

The following year Omonia lifted the Championship trophy after ten years.

In the next two seasons, Omonia was crowned Cup holders in the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 seasons.

In the five years under Papastavrou, Omonia Nicosia qualified twice to the Europa League group stage and once to the Europa Conference League.

The club’s recent successes come after a decade of failure to win the Cypriot League and financial difficulties, almost leading the historic club to bankruptcy in 2018.

Papastavrou saved Omonia by directly injecting €1.5 mln, crucial to pass UEFA’s financial criteria, which the club could not have met otherwise.

He also invested some €23-24 mln in upgrading the playing squad.