The European Commission is set to decide whether the three main football clubs in Limassol, namely Ael, Apollon and Aris, will be asked to pay retroactive rent to the Cyprus Sports Organisation (CSO) for their use of the Limassol Arena, which was inaugurated in November 2022.
Effectively, the European Commission will have to establish whether the €400,000 per year granted by the government to each of the clubs for managing the stadium constitutes state aid, from which they will be asked to pay rent.
Should it be found that the yearly rent price for the stadium is lower than the government grant, the clubs will be obliged to pay the owed rent to the CSO.
However, if estimates based on real estate market evaluations will reveal that €400,000 is a fair yearly rent, the matter will be closed.
Before the stadium was inaugurated, both the state aid control office and the auditor-general have advocated for tender calls, rather than direct grants to the clubs in relation to the management of the Limassol arena.
In fact, it was Auditor General Odysseas Michaelides who brought the matter to the European Commission, which, in turn, asked State Aid Control commissioner Stella Michaelidou for clarifications.
Before taking the case to the European Commission, Michaelides sent letters to both the CSO and to the state aid control office stressing that, as a matter of principle, the management of state property should not be given to private businesses or individuals through direct grants.
The auditor-general also indicated that state aid should always be approved by the European Commission, adding that the granting of the funds to the clubs could be therefore considered illegal.