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Page last updated at 17:58 GMT, Monday, 4 April 2011 18:58 UK

Egypt delay may 'bankrupt' clubs

Zamalek fans flood the pitch at the Cairo International Stadium
The Zamalek fans' mass pitch invasion prompted the abandonment of their Champions League clash against Club Africain and a further delay to the league

By Piers Edwards
BBC Sport

An Al Ahly board member has warned that Egyptian sport could 'collapse' if the football league season is cancelled.

Suspended since January because of political revolution, the league's return was further delayed after fan violence at a Cairo match on Saturday.

Egypt's FA will meet soon to discuss the league's return, with the prospect of a cancellation causing major fears.

"Most football clubs would go out of business if they cancelled the league," Khaled Mortagey told BBC Sport.

"It's a very irresponsible decision from responsible people if they cancel the league - or postpone it even more.

"Not just the football clubs in Egypt could go bankrupt but all the sports in Egypt because football is the main source of revenue to fund other sports."

In Egypt, major sports institutions such as Cairo giants Al Ahly and Zamalek fund a variety of sports through their income from football.

But without regular revenue streams from gate receipts, television broadcasting and sponsorship deals, the other sports - such as handball and volleyball - would face difficulty.

Saturday's violence began after a goal which would have taken Zamalek through their Champions League clash against Club Africain was ruled out for offside.

Al Ahly board member Khaled Mortagey
Al Ahly board member Khaled Mortagey fears the bankruptcy of Egyptian sport

This sparked a pitch invasion where both the referee and visiting players were attacked in only the fifth football match to be staged in Egypt since the revolution that toppled President Hosni Mubarak in January.

First suspended in late January, the Egyptian league - which is at the halfway stage - was due to resume on 13 April but the EFA has now delayed its return indefinitely.

"How can you survive without having revenue streams?" Mortagey asked.

"We have 19 different sports at Al Ahly and the revenue of the sports other than football is zero. Yet these other sports are the ones that bring on the players onto their national teams.

"So you're talking about all the sports in Egypt collapsing."

Egyptian football has already been affected by the political turmoil that swept the country earlier in the year.

Lacking competitive football since the league was suspended in late January, the national team - who have won the last three Africa Cup of Nations - sit bottom of their qualifying group.

On 26 March, Egypt lost a Group G qualifier in South Africa as they were beaten by Bafana Bafana for the first time in a competitive match.

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see also
Caf to meet over Zamalek violence
04 Apr 11 |  African
Egypt apologises over violence
03 Apr 11 |  African
Violence delays Egypt league
03 Apr 11 |  African
Egyptian FA to reduce staff wages
01 Mar 11 |  African
Egypt suspends all football
04 Feb 11 |  African

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