The president of Greek premier league club AEK Athens has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for forgery.

Makis Psomiadis was found guilty of forgery against the Greek state in a case dating back to his time as owner of the To Onoma newspaper in February 1996.

Psomiadis published a forged document accusing former government minister Kostas Laliotis of getting a pay-off from a German consortium bidding for the contract to build the new Athens airport. Consequently, Laliotis sued Psomiadis for defamation.

The news comes just a day ahead of AEK’S clash with European champions Real Madrid in Athens.

‘I am surprised by this decision as I am innocent,’ Psomiadis claimed. ‘I leave this courtroom with my head held high.’

The documentation claimed to show a then-government minister was involved in shady practices surrounding the building of a new Athens airport.