Could Panathinaikos go the same way as Glasgow Rangers this summer?
I know all too well about the passion which fans of Greek outfit Panathinaikos have for their beloved club.
I can hark back to playing football for a Greek friend of mines short-lived football team easyPanathinai Herts.
Based mainly around a group of Greek-Australian’s if there wasn’t a pretty lucrative sponsorship deal with easyjet which enforced us to wear a petty garish Orange kit I can assure you the strip would have been green in colour.
But for Panathinaikos things have just taken a turn for the worse.
They now join an ever increasing amount of top teams from across Europe such as Glasgow Rangers, Deportivo La Coruna and Brondby to suffer crippling debts that leaves their future unclear.
Not many countries in Europe have suffered more due to the economic downturn than Greece. Over the past year riots and protests have become common place in Athens and other major cities as unemployment rises and the country has effectively descended into bankruptcy.
And football is not immune to the country’s financial disease.
Many a club in the top division has suffered amid the financial turmoil. With players on big wages sucking the clubs dry and gate receipts diminishing rapidly. The lowest attendance this season was 168 people for the game between Kerkyra and Levadiakos.
But while smaller teams have bit the dust the big teams seemed impenetrable; until now.
Coming off the back of a season where they finished 6th; their lowest league position in the history of the Greek Super League they have now been dealt a blow by the Hellenic Football Federation.
Panathinaikos are one of eight teams rejected a license to play in the Greek Super League next season due to financial irregularities; along with the likes of Aris Salonika, Panionios and the already relegated Greek giants AEK Athens.
It comes after the financial withdrawal of Saudi Prince Faisal bin Abdulaziz Nasser bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and the takeover of the club by the fans.
Panathinaikos are to appeal the decision but the Greek federation is adamant on a tough stance in this regard.
It could potentially mean the 105-year-old club that has won the Greek championship on 20 occasions and been the runners-up in the European Cup back in 1977 being demoted to the Greek Football League; to play against the likes of Fokikos and Ethnikos Gazoros.
A far cry from the quarter-finals of the Champions League just over ten years ago.
What do you make of Panathinaikos’ plight?
image: © jorge-11