By George Psyllides
THE football association (CFA) said on Thursday night that a rematch between the two title contenders would most likely go ahead as scheduled on Saturday.
CFA chairman Costakis Koutsokoumnis made the statements after a meeting with the biggest clubs, which he called in a bid to resolve the championship shambles after an appeals board quit to avoid passing judgment that could decide this season’s champions.
The meeting was held with APOEL, AEL, Omonoia, Apollon, Anorthosis, and AEK to discuss the situation after the CFA’s appeals board opted to resign on Wednesday rather than issue a ruling on a May 17 game between AEL and APOEL that was abandoned because of fan violence.
The CFA’s judicial committee had decided that the game will be replayed this Saturday at a neutral ground behind closed doors, but APOEL appealed arguing it should be awarded the three points – and the championship — because it was AEL fans that caused the trouble.
In what many say has become a farce, the appeals board resigned on Wednesday, accusing both teams of publicly attacking and humiliating them “in order to pressure members into rendering a favourable decision.”
The board had been due to convene on Thursday afternoon.
Koutsokoumnis said on Thursday the game would go ahead as scheduled on Saturday if a new appeals board could not be found.
Following the meeting with the clubs, Koutsokoumnis said that was the likeliest scenario since it was difficult to appoint a new appeals board before Saturday.
He said he’d be making one last attempt to persuade the members of the appeals board to take back their resignations; if they agreed to re-engage, there was a slim chance the appeals board might deliberate on Friday and issue a ruling. Otherwise the match would proceed as planned.
Koutsokoumnis said the CFA must declare the name of the champion to UEFA, the European governing body, by Monday the very latest.
However, if the appeals board were to decide in June to vindicate APOEL, then the Nicosia team will be crowned champions but UEFA will not accept any changes as regards European fixtures.
Should the game go ahead on Saturday as planned, and AEL win the match and the title, a weird situation could arise whereby AEL would be declared champions to UEFA and would get to compete in the Champions League; but if the CFA appeals board were to subsequently reverse the prior ruling, and thus automatically award the May 17 fixture to APOEL, the Nicosia club would be named champions on a technicality, but as far as UEFA is concerned the title holders would still be AEL.
The match that was meant to decide which team would win the championship and in extension a ticket for the lucrative Champions League, was interrupted after an AEL fan threw a fire cracker at APOEL’s bench, injuring one of the players.
Last night the CFA also announced the venue and time for the repeat match. It will be held at the Antonis Papadopoulos stadium in Larnaca, and kickoff is at 6pm. The CFA said that only players registered with the club on the date of the original game of May 17 are allowed to participate in the rematch.