May 14, 2013 / 5:17 PM / 6 years ago

Soccer-AEK Athens set for bankruptcy and third tier

ATHENS, May 14 (Reuters) - AEK Athens said on Tuesday they were 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 that ended in May. They are in serious financial difficulties and reported to owe 170 million euros ($220 million) in taxes.

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.

“Following today’s extraordinary general meeting of AEK a new three-member board of directors was elected,” the club said in a statement.

“The board will hold a new general meeting on June 7 to discuss the liquidation of the company and the appointment of liquidators.

“Also the club has decided to submit a statement to the Football League organisation that AEK will not participate in the Football League’s second division.”

Oil magnate Dimitris Melissanidis is expected to take control of the club in a rebuilding project that could include the construction of a new stadium. Melissanidis, 61, served as AEK president from 1992-93 and 1994-95.

AEK are traditionally Greece’s third biggest club behind Olympiakios Piraeus and Panathinaikos. They were penalised five points for a pitch invasion in their penultimate match which was abandoned as a result.

The infamous Nazi-salute goal celebration of midfielder Giorgos Katidis last month was another blow to AEK’s reputation.

Katidis was banned by AEK until the end of the season and received a life ban from all Greek national teams for making the gesture after scoring the winning goal in a league game against Veria. ($1 = 0.7705 euros) (Reporting by Graham Wood; editing by Robert Woodward)

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