ATHENS: Russian tobacco magnate and politician Ivan Savvidis has taken over as  majority shareholder of  PAOK Salonika with a pledge to  rid the financially troubled Greek club of all their  debts.

Savvidis, with Greek background, has experience of running soccer clubs in Russia but has been attempting to buy the Thessaloniki club for the last six years. He is reported to have paid €10m for a 51pc stake.

He said he would look to Russian clubs to help strengthen PAOK’s playing staff and to Russian companies for sponsorship support.

PAOK have reached the play-off round of the UEFA Europa League after beating Bnei Yehuda of Israel 4-1 to win their third round qualifying tie 6-1 on aggregate.

# # # #