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Top Greek football club AEK Athens is casualty of crisis

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The economic crisis has hit Greek football hard. Austerity has reduced the disposable income of fans, often drastically, and businesses have also been in difficulty. AEK Athens has become a major casualty of the Eurozone crisis.

They are preparing to declare bankruptcy and seek relegation to the third division. AEK were relegated from the Super League for the first time in their 89-year history in the season just ended. They are in serious financial difficulties and reported to owe 170 million euros in taxes. Angela Merkel, herself a football fan, will be pleased to hear that.

Almost the entire first-team squad was sold off to secure a licence and preserve their top-flight status at the start of the 2012-13 season. At an emergency shareholders’ meeting on Tuesday, the club announced they would not play in Greece’s second tier next season and would formally begin the process leading to liquidation when their new board meets on June 7.

All is not lost as oil trader Dimitris Melissanidis is expected to take control of the club in a rebuilding project that could include the construction of a new stadium. Melissanidis served as AEK president from 1992-93 and 1994-95.