With local football clubs ordered to undergo monthly audit inspections, it looks like it could be a painstaking process for many.
Last Monday saw the deadline for the CFA’s monthly audit inspection of the island’s top division football clubs with 13 out of the 14 teams managing to get their books in order of the month of September.
Two years ago, the Cyprus Football Association (CFA) pledged that it would clampdown on bad management at football clubs as many continued to spend well above their means particularly on high-salary players.
Many clubs are today feeling the brunt of that over-expenditure with some owing millions while other clubs – such as APOP Kinyras/Peyias – have already been forced into bankruptcy.
And with UEFA now determined to enforce their UEFA Financial Fair Play Scheme throughout Europe, all clubs in Cyprus are now under the strict watch of the Cyprus Club Financial Control Panel (CCFCP) – operating under the auspices of the CFA.
Acting as a deterrent against woeful management ways of the past, the CCFCP carries out audit inspections on the football clubs on a monthly basis to ensure that they meet UEFA (Europe’s governing body for football) financial criteria.
According to the licensing regulations, the CCFC – which is headed by Nick Nicolaou – outlines minimum requirements for profit and loss accounts of all Cypriot football clubs.
They are Revenue (gate receipts, sponsorship and advertising, broadcasting rights, commercial, UEFA solidarity and prize money and other operating income), Expenses (cost of sales/materials, employee benefits expenses, depreciation of fixed assets and other operating income) and Other (profit/loss of disposal of assets, profit/loss on disposal of intangible assets-players, finance income, finance costs, tax expense and profit or loss after taxation).
Failure to comply with the regulations will see the clubs hit with a deduction of points – as has been the case already with Nea Salamina, Enosis Neon Paralimniou and Alki – while heftier penalties include demotion and expulsion from European competitions.
Apart from money owed in state dues such as social insurance and VAT, Cypriot clubs have also developed a negative reputation throughout the globe as being notoriously bad employers.
According to the world footballers union (FIFPro), Cyprus currently has the highest number of tribunal cases of all countries with regards to footballers and coaches owed money from their clubs or former clubs.
Only bottom club Alki failed to get their finances up to par with UEFA stringent financial criteria. The Larnaca club had begun the season on -6 points because of debts and is now set to be hit with another six point penalty.
This week, Alki were hit with more bad news after a FIFA (World governing body for football) tribunal decision ruled in favour of former footballer Edmar. The Brazilian is said to be owed €16,000 by the Larnaca club and they have been given until next month to pay him in full.
“Things are very tough for Alki”, said Alki chairman Fivos Onisiforou. “We did not hand in our file even though efforts were made to do so. We are enduring hard times but we are still standing. Unfortunately, a points deduction on our club is inevitable but the fact that we have gone from -6 to -12 doesn’t change anything.”
Due to the financial problems at Alki, the club have been forced to field young Cypriot players something which many see as the only positive for local football particular with the island’s league currently holding the highest ratio of overseas players throughout all of Europe. It is this reason, argue critics, that the Cyprus national team has endured a poor run of results since 2009 with the island’s last two coaches arguing that the selection pool is slim because the top clubs are swamped with players that are not Cypriot.
Off the pitch, Alki were also hit by the news that long-time chairman Nicos Lillis was arrested last month on suspicion of bribery, corruption and fraud in a land swindle deal in Dromolaxia a few years ago. He is currently facing trial at the Larnaca District Court.
Onisiforou added, “We have already resorted to the fact that we will be in the second division next season. What is important to us is that we continue to fight tooth and nail in order to make sure that this club survives. The problems are insurmountable but we will stay close to the club and our young players.”

The financial situation at the top clubs

Anorthosis Famagusta
Along with Omonia, Anorthosis represent the big clubs of the island to be in deep financial trouble with debts said to be standing at just over €10million. The club needed to raise the mammoth amount of €1.1m for September alone, something they succeeded in doing thanks largely to the sale of Colombian football star Ricardo Laborde in the summer and a whip-round amongst the club’s fans. Money was also donated from the Anorthosis board as well as recently-appointed chairman Christos Poullaides. The club submitted their audit report on time.

Apollon Limassol
This season’s Cyprus Cup holders and current Cypriot Europa League representatives have made significant progress on the financial side of things particularly after they trimmed down their budget. They are also expected to earn some €2m to €3m from their campaign in Europe this season. The club submitted their audit report promptly.

Ermis Aradippou
The modest club from Aradippou are just one of few clubs in the top division that reportedly do not have any financial problems. Ermis have also made a flying start to the season and are joint top leaders along with Apollon and Anorthosis.

AEL Limassol
Once in financial disarray, AEL are another club said to be sound and have been greatly helped by their league title success two seasons ago and their subsequent campaign both in the Champions League and the Europa League.

With the Nicosia club have reached the Champions League twice since 2009, earning a remarkable €30m in the process, it is little surprise that the books at APOEL are in order. An additional €2m to €3m from the Europa League is also set to line their pockets this year making APOEL the island’s most financial stable club.

AEK Larnaca
AEK needed €200,000 to reach the UEFA criteria for September something that was accomplished via various events at the club. The remainder of the cash was donated by the club board. The Larnaca club had reached the Europa League group stage three seasons ago earning a couple of million in the process but have failed to qualify for Europe again since then.

Like Anorthosis, Omonia are suffering from years of bad management at the hands of previous boards. Despite the club currently owing over €10m, they still managed to have in their audit report on time with club officials hopeful that they are on the road to recovery after a turbulent year. Omonia have the biggest fan base in Cyprus along with big rivals APOEL and despite being the island’s second most titled club, they have failed to qualify for the group stages of a major European competition unlike APOEL, Anorthosis, AEL, AEK and Apollon.

Doxa Katokopia
The modest club from the refugee village of Katokopia has no financial problems and handed in their audit report promptly. Since 2007, the club have developed a reputation of importing foreign players from Portugal at bargain prices and then selling them on to other clubs for a profit.

AEK Kouklion
Cyprus’ only top division side from Paphos, AEK entered the first division this season for the first time and successfully passed the UEFA criteria without any problems. Their one-time neighbours APOP Kinyras/Peyias – Cup winners back in 2009 – have since been disbanded after going bankrupt while the biggest club in the town, AEP, could be set to join them as they too continue to buckle under mounting debts.

Aris Limassol
Aris live in the shadows of fellow Limassol clubs Apollon and AEL and donations from board members – both prior and present – were needed to lift the tiny club and get them through the first audit inspection in September.

Ethnikos Achnas
Ethnikos came dangerously close to missing the October 14 cut off date and club chairman Kikis Philippou and his board needed to scramble at the final hour to ensure that they raised the necessary €70,000 for the monthly audit inspection. The club, who have been a consistent top division side since 1992 and remain the island’s only side to have won a UEFA competition trophy (2006 Intertoto Cup), are still in some financial trouble.

Nea Salamina
The Famagusta club are currently in financial disarray with the board forced to wave the begging bowls to their fans in a bid to raise €30,000 in the days leading up to the cut-off date. A club contributor also pitched in to raise the funds as the club, who started off the season on -3 points, managed to pass the criteria for September.

Enosis Neon Paralimniou
The club from Paralimni was also forced to turn to the fans to pass the UEFA criteria for the month of September. A heart-warming story of the academy players raising a good part of the cash needed to balance the books were just some of the stories to come out from the town. Like Salamina, they too began the season on -3 points for failing to get their books in order in time.

The island’s worst-hit first division club, they are set to go from -6 to -12 points and club officials have resigned themselves to the fact that they will be relegated at the end of the season despite the season being just five games in. Problems have hit the club both off and on the pitch and biggest priority now is saving the club from bankruptcy.

Cyprus Weekly

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