Ahly revoke Turki Al-Sheikh's honorary president title, will take legal measures against Zamalek

Mohamad Mosselhi , Tuesday 2 Jun 2020

The Cairo giants are seeking to end their relationship with Saudi official Turki Al-Sheikh, will lay off skipper Hossam Ashour, and will seek redress against Zamalek in a row over a title

File photo: Saudi General Entertainment Authority chairman Turki Al-Sheikh and Ahly president Mahmoud Al-Khatib (Photo: Facebook)

Egyptian giants Ahly have decided to revoke the name of Saudi General Entertainment Authority chairman Turki Al-Sheikh from the club's list of honorary presidents following an online spat that marks the latest episode in a war of words over the past two years.

"Following the false accusations from Turki Al-Sheikh directed at the club's board, in a manner unprecedented in Ahly's history, the club has decided to revoke his name from its honorary president list," read a statement on the club's official website on Tuesday.

"The club overlooked Al-Sheikh’s accusations about it many times in recognition of the historic relations between the two countries and after the intervention of many responsible people in Egypt to resolve all kinds of problems, but he continued making false accusations about the club's board," the statement added.

Al-Sheikh, who served as Saudi minister of sports before taking on the country’s entertainment portfolio in December 2018, had previously been a strong backer of the current Ahly administration, led by iconic Egypt and Ahly forward Mahmoud El-Khattib.

Presenting himself as a big fan of the club, Al-Sheikh provided it with financial support, including funds for transfers and offering to help build a new stadium.

The Saudi official was named honorary president of the club in 2018 in recognition of his contributions.

However, the relationship soured that year over differences in strategies and opinions, and a series of altercations erupted in the media.

Al-Sheikh then bought Assiouty FC, renaming it Pyramids and leading it to become a rising power in Egyptian football. He then left his role as president and bought Spanish second division side Almeria.

Following a brief reconciliation, beginning in November 2019 when Al-Sheikh visited El-Khattib at home, the two sides erupted into conflict again in May after the Saudi minister criticised the board's lack of commitment, and board member Mohamed Serag responded by criticising him.

In its statement, Ahly also announced that they are seeking to return all Al-Sheikh’s gifts, which he repeatedly makes reference to, after obtaining the permission of the sport ministry, since they have become a club property and so a public fund.

Ashour's retirement

The club has also decided to annul their previous decision concerning the privileges that were awarded to former team skipper Hossam Ashour.

In March Ahly decided not to renew the contract of the team's long-serving captain, promising to give him a retirement package.

The club said they would organise a prestigious farewell game for Ashour, the most decorated player in the club's history, in recognition of his efforts with the team, beginning in 2003.

The club also offered him a post on the club’s TV channel, or said they would pay all the expenses of a trip to the big clubs in Europe if he wanted to start a coaching career.

On Sunday Ashour criticised the board in an online video expressing his frustration at the delay in organising his farewell game and saying that he deserves better treatment from the club that he served for 17 years.

The club declared on Monday that they had fined the player for violating the club's regulations after he spoke out on social media without prior authorisation, and that they had decided to annul their previous decision concerning the facilities awarded to him.

Club of the century

Ahly have also decided to take legal action against Cairo giants Zamalek, who declared themselves the real “club of the twentieth century,” a title awarded to the Red Devils in 2000.

Zamalek last month reopened an old debate concerning the declaration by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) that Ahly were the continent’s club of the twentieth century, arguing they deserve the title.

Zamalek president Mortada Mansour said his club was preparing a complaint with the Court of Arbitration for Sports to preserve the club’s rights.

A billboard was hung recently club premises, proclaiming Zamalek to be "the real African club of the twentieth century."

"Ahly will take all legal actions to preserve their rights from those who infringe them," the club’s statement concluded.

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