Cyprus Mail

Former Omonia chairman spent wildly and ignored warnings, court told

Former president Demetris Christofias

Contractor Miltiades Neophytou ignored board members’ warnings with regard to Omonia football club’s financials while he was its chairman, his successor at the club Stelios Mylonas told the court on Monday.

Mylonas, who took the witness stand in the civil lawsuit filed by Neophytou against former President Demetris Christofias, in which he demands over €20 million in damages, said the contractor responded to pleas for financial prudence with “it’s my money and I will manage it as I see fit”.

“As far as I can recall, Neophytou never told us that he planned to get back the money he sunk into Omonia,” Mylonas said.

“Nor that Demetris Christofias or Akel had promised to refund any money he spent.”

In his own statement in court, Neophytou had claimed that he had been pressured into taking over Omonia by Christofias, so that he could lead the club to success, thereby bolstering the president’s re-election bid, with the promise that any money spent would be returned to him via Akel-affiliated companies.

Following Neophytou’s resignation from Omonia in August 2012 after a four-year stint, Mylonas served as interim club chairman.

“After Neophytou’s decision to resign in August 2012 the club faced financial troubles, which we were gradually able to address,” Mylonas said.

With regard to Neophytou’s management style, Mylonas said the contractor had undertaken the management of the club’s financial affairs and the team himself.

“I told him many times, as did other board members, that he was assuming too great a risk in the way he spent money for the transfer of players, and especially on the players’ salaries, on the way he handled the termination of players’ contracts, and financial administration in general,” Mylonas said.

“His response to our advice and urgings had always been that it was his money, and he would manage it as he saw fit.”

With regard to money spent on Omonia, Mylonas added, everyone chipped in, whether a board member, club member, or fans, “each to the extent possible”.

“None of us asked to get it back, nor did anyone expect to get it back, and Miltiades Neophytou certainly never gave off the impression, as far as I can recall, that he would ask for the money he or his company paid into Omonia, or that Demetris Christofias or Akel promised to refund any of the money to him,” the witness added.

Mylonas said that during his time as Omonia chairman he had had “no contact with Demetris Christofias”, thus rejecting Neophytou’s claims that Christofias sought to run the club by proxy.

“Nor had there been any instruction or order from Akel on any issue relating to the club,” he said.

“If there had been orders from Akel, I would quit, I am not the sort of person who would take orders from outsiders.”

However, Mylonas acknowledged a “close relationship” between Akel and Omonia, although he said this was only in that Omonia and Akel shared the same base of supporters.

During cross-examination, Mylonas denied the assertion that the reason he had never voiced disagreement with Neophytou’s management was his knowledge that the club’s chairman was acting on instructions from Akel and Christofias.

He also claimed that Neophytou had told the club’s general assembly that the €22 million he had sunk into Omonia appeared as a loan in the books, but they shouldn’t worry because “I won’t leave Omonia with outstanding loans”.

Mylonas said he has never been an Akel member, nor did he have any links to the party.

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