PAOK fined and threatened with European ban

Greek club PAOK Salonika have been fined and threatened with a ban from European competition for breaching UEFA's club licensing regulations, European football's governing body said.

UEFA said its disciplinary committee had fined PAOK, who have reached the last 32 of the Europa League, 250,000 euros, of which 200,000 euros is suspended for a probationary period of three years.

"In addition, PAOK have been excluded from one UEFA club competition for which they qualify in the next three seasons. The exclusion is also suspended for a probationary period of three years," UEFA said.

UEFA added: "PAOK must prove that, by June 30, 2012, they have no outstanding overdue financial obligations towards employees, tax authorities, social security institutions or other clubs arising from transfer agreements incurred before June 30 2012.

"UEFA's competent body will ensure that PAOK comply with this order."

Former Leicester City and Greece midfielder Theodoros Zagorakis has helped rescue the club from collapse since taking over as president in 2007.

However, twice Greek champions PAOK, famous for their fanatical support, still struggle to make ends meet due to the difficult financial situation in the country.

UEFA licensing regulations ban clubs from taking part in European competition if they owe money to tax authorities, government social security institutions, other clubs or their own employees.

Clubs must also meet sporting criteria, which include rules governing the size of doping rooms, media officers and the coach's qualifications, as well as minimum standards on infrastructure.

These regulations will be strengthened further in the 2014/15 when clubs will have to prove that their expenditure does not exceed their generated income.

The new policy, dubbed Financial Fair Play, is aimed to stop rich owners from distorting the market with huge cash injections and to stop clubs running up huge losses as they attempt to win trophies.

PAOK will face Italian club Udinese in the knockout stages of the Europa League.