By Constantinos Psillides
Football clubs should pay the cost of policing matches, Auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides has said.
Michaelides has suggested the cost could be offset by allocating one euro from the cost of match tickets to cover police expenses.
In 52-page scathing report on the activities of various athletic associations, the product of a two-year audit, Michaelides asks the government to find a way to cover policing expenses, arguing that it should not be up to the taxpayer.
“We feel that is fair and just, especially under current, dire financial circumstances, that the Cyprus Football Association (CFA) should find a way to cover some of the policing expenses, which are now is almost exclusively covered by the state. That cost should be covered exclusively by the CFA and its football club members, possibly by increasing ticket prices,” wrote the AG in his report.
According to the report, almost a million euros is spent each year in policing football matches (€953,575) of which €400,000 is covered by the Cyprus Sports Organisation–which is funded by the government – and the rest by the state.
The situation was deemed unacceptable so representatives from the CFA and CSO met with government officials in 2009 to decide on measures to be taken. The CSO suggested that part of the ticket revenue –about one euro per ticket- to be allocated to cover policing expenses.
The CFA disagreed and rejected the suggestion, proposing instead in 2010 that the money come from TV rights.
For 2013 the CFA received €72,842 for policing purposes from TV rights, which Michaelides notes that “is not nearly enough, taking into consideration that if the CSO’s suggestion was adopted then the CFA would get €500.000 for that purpose”.
“If the CFA doesn’t want to enforce this measure then it’s up to them. But that doesn’t mean that the taxpayer has to shoulder that expense. If football clubs want extra policing then they should pay for it out of their own pockets,” said Michaelides, adding that this might act as a counter-incentive for football clubs to rein in their most troublesome fans.
The report also shed light on the shady practices of several athletic associations. According to the report, auditors discovered that in most cases services and goods were purchased without issuing receipts, revenue was not reported adequately, family members of the government appointed board of directors were handed contracts without a proper tender process and donations were received that weren’t properly documented.
The report also touches upon the subject of football clubs’ debt to the CFA. In particular, the report mentioned a football club that owes the CFA €2.8m and was granted a sponsorship from the state contrary to the law, following a suggestion by the finance ministry.
Michaelides report also suggests that a cap is set for individual athlete grants as well as recording athlete revenue from sources other than the state.
He asked the CSO to take appropriate measure and deal with the issues.
CSO president Klea Papaellina did not return calls for comment, calls while CFA head (and a number of CFA officials) are currently in Japan to attend a friendly match between Cyprus and Japan football squads.