Court hands back Atletico shares

Lindsay Harrison
Thursday 12 February 2004 01:00

A Spanish court has returned the control of shares in Atletico Madrid to the club's former president Jesus Gil and the current president Enrique Cerezo.

The shares, amounting to 95 per cent of Atletico's capital, were seized a year ago after irregularities were found in the running of the club.

Europa Press reported yesterday that the National Court's decision to return control of the shares to the club came after Gil and Cerezo had paid €11.72 m (US$15m) in July, a sum which had been owing since Atletico became a limited company in 1992. This was a condition imposed by the court for Atletico to increase share capital by €36m (US$46.1m) last year.

Gil quit his post as president of Atletico after 16 years last May, saying he was fed up with the criticism he attracted and adding that his departure would allow the share capital increase to proceed more smoothly. He was replaced as president by the movie producer Cerezo.

Gil's career at Atletico has been punctuated by controversy and court appearances. He has been implicated in dozens of judicial investigations over the past three decades, and has spent several short spells in prison.

Another former club president, Sergio Cragnotti, has been arrested after a warrant was issued by the Rome prosecutors' office. The former Lazio owner has been under investigation for several months following the financial crisis that hit Lazio's former majority shareholder, the Italian food company Cirio.

Cirio was declared insolvent in November 2002 and three months later Cragnotti stepped down from his post as president of Lazio. Cragnotti and his son Andrea, who is also being held by the Italian police, are being investigated in relation to a bankruptcy inquiry.

In the Netherlands, Ajax have extended the contracts of two defenders, Brazil's Maxwell and Tunisia's Hatem Trabelsi, for an additional two years.

Trabelsi, 27, said earlier this month that he would finish the current season with Ajax but hoped then to transfer a major club in England or Italy - preferably Chelsea.

Maxwell is a leading light in the Brazilian Olympic team, while Trabelsi has excelled for Tunisia in the African Cup of Nations, now through to the final after a dramatic penalty shoot-out win over Nigeria in the semi-final.

In Switzerland, the financially-troubled Servette's First Division fixture with St Gallen will go ahead on Sunday after the club reached an agreement with the owners of the Stade de Genève.

Servette, who won the title for the 17th time in 1999, are reportedly 11 million Swiss francs (£4.74m) in debt and the club's president Christian Lue said they would have to be wound up at the end of this month if no investor was found. They are also reported to owe stadium owners Société d'Exploitation du Stade de Genève (SESG) some 300,000 Swiss francs, but an agreement has been reached for Sunday's game to go ahead.

"We will play the game," a spokeswoman Cosima Deluermoz said. "We have found a solution." She did not say what agreements had been made with the SESG.

Servette's fans will hold a demonstration in Geneva on Saturday to try to save the club from bankruptcy.

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