Government sees “good reasons” for taxpayers to pay for new stadium in Limassol

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By Stelios Orphanides

The Cypriot taxpayer will foot the bill for the construction of a new stadium in Limassol that will host games of the three local clubs, AEL, Apollon and Aris, which have left the building permit bill unsettled, a government spokesman said.

“There are true reasons why the government must finance such a project,” including tackling football hooliganism, deputy government spokesman Victor Papadopoulos told reporters on Monday after a meeting at the Presidential Palace between representatives of the three clubs and President Nicos Anastasiades.

Papadopoulos, who served as vice chairman of Aris, said that the building permit was issued in September but the clubs have not received it yet because they have not paid €1.2m in fees.

In a telephone interview, Papadopoulos said that the cost of the new Limassol stadium is estimated at €28m. The government already leased the land to the three clubs which will take a loan from a bank and the government will repay.

The head of the finance ministry’s budget directorate informed the participants in Monday’s meeting that “the solution was found for the bank to finance the project,” he added.

The government has to provide the European Commission’s competition authority answers to justify this subsidy, he said adding that all other football clubs got a new stadium financed by the government before Cyprus became a EU member in 2004 and thus restricted by EU state-aid regulations.

“The new policy applied by the EU and the (European Commission’s) Competition Commission is related to financing stadiums by the state, which is very strict in recent years and they have fined very large clubs like Barcelona, Real (Mardid) and others for such matters,” Papadopoulos said. “Today’s meeting looked also into this matter; we have to be a bit fast, a bit more effective with respect to the response we must give to the competition committee”.

After Undersecretary to the President Constantinos Petrides visited Brussels in December, the EU Commission “appeared ready to assist provided the case is well documented,” the spokesman said.

“This is a project benefiting the public that will help Limassol a lot also in tackling hooliganism, in sport” and with respect to other social activities, he added. “There are therefore good reasons why the state has to finance this effort”.

Cypriot governments have a long tradition of financing football clubs and turning a blind eye when football clubs fail to comply with their obligations. In June 2007, the Cypriot government agreed to give €6.8m clubs to them help pay €14m in outstanding income tax, value-added tax and social insurance contributions. The money, half of which was immediately released via the Cyprus Football Association, was given on the condition that the body’s 56 members would start to pay their post-2007 tax obligations on a regular basis.

“The government appeals to clubs to be more committed because lack of commitment in meeting their obligations and the lack of coordination (of their actions) have caused a delay which is unjustified,” Papadopoulos said.

The three Limassol football clubs currently use Tsirion Stadium which was erected in the mid-1970s.

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About Author

Stelios Orphanides is a journalist at CyprusBusinessMail.com. To contact Stelios Orphanides: [email protected]

  • Adele

    Well I am definitely not happy

    • disqus_ZPlOdQqScB

      You are not alone

  • SuzieQ

    I object to my taxes being spent in this way! What about an oncology unit in Paphos, dialysis machines, disability access in all areas, green parks for ALL to enjoy etc, etc, etc.

    • disqus_ZPlOdQqScB

      Precisely

  • disqus_ZPlOdQqScB

    Football clubs are a private business that must make money to “stay alive” including all taxes etc, it’s shocking in the past the government bailed them out. I object also to tax money being pumped into loss making projects!

  • LMS

    With UEFA flagging up shady betting in Cyprus, almost on a weekly basis, I’m now, as an honest, hard working tax payer, being asked to pay for a new stadium.

    No!

  • GSP

    If the clubs cannot afford a stadium then there is absolutely no justification for anybody else to foot the bill.
    The excuse of reducing football hooliganism is a joke. The way to do that is to bring in proper custodial sentences for offenders, not reward them with new facilities.

  • peemdubya

    Why are the clubs’ representatives meeting with the President? Is there not a Minister for Sport & Culture (or whatever) that should be covering this issue? Oh, I forgot, this is Cyprooos, and everything ends up round the President’s table – why do we have Ministers, can somebody please tell me???

  • Jack

    Anastasiadis football team is from Limassol he knows what hes doing , he just has to do it before the elections in case he loses just like Christofias did with Omonia when he was president which ended up bankrupting the club , Disgraceful they make the public pay for there entertainment , and the excuse is 28 million pound to stop hooliganism !

  • Cousin Jack

    If we had anything other than a completely gutless electorate and a completely corrupt set of politicians situations like this would never happen.

  • Andreas Louca

    This should not be paid for by the tax payers , The Corruption with in our football .should be sorted out . not just the match fixing but the money laundering on the purchase of foreign players . Football is a private business, the owners do not care about the nation team , when foreign players dominate the make up of teams . If they cannot afford a stadium , they should not have one at the tax payers expense. Its time our politicians got put of the Football. Look at the mess our last President got into with his favorite club.

  • Russell Livingstone

    and this is why Cyprus got caught short when banks went tits up –crazy not sure e u rules allow it

  • Russell Livingstone

    well people of Cyprus protest your tax being used for this –sure there are better things it can buy