Apoel football club owes over €1 million to the state in unpaid taxes, data revealed by the finance ministry on Tuesday shows.

The ministry made public a list of football clubs which owe taxes to the state, with Nicosia-based club Apoel topping the list, owing a total of €1.34m.

Limassol’s Apollon owes the second highest amount, at €1.02m, with city rivals Ael third in the unpaid tax league table, owing a little over €960,000.

Pafos FC are next on the list, owing just shy of €776,000, while Anorthosis owes a little under €375,000.

A number of smaller clubs owe thousands of euros, including Ethnikos Achna, which owes €141,700, and Othellos Athienou €83,800.

Nicosia-based club Omonia, Apoel’s city rivals, owes €24,100, while Limassol’s third club Aris owes €500.

The club with the smallest amount of unpaid tax debt is Nea Salamina, which owes €9.46.

The ministry also pointed out that five clubs, Larnaca’s AEK, Olympiacos Nicosia, Akritas Chlorakas, AEZ of Limassol suburb Zakaki, and Omonia 29 May, the club founded by disgruntled Omonia fans in 2018, owe nothing to the state.

The government has recently been exploring ways of recovering that tax debt, with previous debt repayment plans having not been adhered to by the football clubs.

According to the Audit Office, out of the 19 clubs which owed unpaid taxes in 2023, five had not made a single payment since the latest repayment plan was agreed in 2023, with 14 having since accumulated new tax debts. That plan’s deadline was set for June 2027, and the plan is still, hypothetically at least, in play.

The government’s plan is to increase taxes on takings by betting shops and then increase the percentage of takings by betting shops paid by the Cyprus Sports Organisation (CSO) to the Cyprus Football Association (CFA) from 1.5 per cent to three per cent.

This money, which is distributed by the CFA to the clubs, will then be used by the clubs to repay their debts over the next 13 years.

However, as some have pointed out, the bill essentially offers leniency to football clubs which is not typically afforded to regular companies which owe unpaid taxes to the state.

In some cases, directors and owners of businesses which have failed to repay their tax debts have even ended up in prison. Football clubs, their owners and their directors have not, at least publicly, been threatened with such severe sanctions.

Fears have also been raised that the government’s plan may violate European Union law, with the European Commission previously having taken a dim view of member states offering unduly favourable financial conditions to their football clubs.