New AEK Athens FC owner Themistoklis Nikolaidis has started planning for next season, as the stricken club appoint a technical manager and begin negotiations with their squad.
The former striker retired after Greece's UEFA EURO 2004™ victory having bought 58 per cent of the club, and will become president on 1 August when his playing registration expires. Until then Andreas Dimitrelos will act as president and chief executive officer while the board have also appointed another former player, Ilija Ivic, as technical manager.
Ivic will be charged with negotiating with Theodoros Zagorakis, Vassilios Tsiartas, Mihalis Kapsis, Vassilios Lakis, Konstantinos Katsouranis, Nikos Lyberopoulos, Sotiris Lyberopoulos, Dimitrios Nalitzis, Mihalis Kasapis, Christos Maladenis and Michel Kreek, who have asked to be released from their contract and paid moneys owing to them.
Nikolaidis's plan depends on an article of law that states that if 60 per cent of creditors agree to waive their dues, then the remainder of the creditors are forced to follow suit. Although an initial petition to court was rejected as papers were not in order, Nikolaidis is set to launch another bid this week. He has also hinted that if there is no other way out of the €150m debt, he may declare the club bankrupt and accept relegation to the amateur fourth division.
However, FIFA have lifted an embargo on the signing of non-Greek players imposed on AEK on 29 January. A letter from FIFA stated: "In view of recent events and because you have paid the sums owed through the Hellenic Football Federation, we lift the ban imposed on 29 January 2004 - a decision effective immediately." In AEK survive they will begin this season’s UEFA Cup in the first round.
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