Alafouzos pulls the plug
Further major developments regarding the future of Panathinaikos have emerged in recent days, most notably the fact that Giannis Alafouzos has now stated that he will no longer be contributing any funds into the running of the struggling football club.
This significantly contradicts what he had previously informed the Panathinaikos world – that he would provide funds for the basic operations until the end of the season. This should not come as a shock that Alafouzos has backtracked on his word as it has happened before, but more importantly, what predicament do these latest developments leave the club? As one can imagine, not in a very good place to say the least…
In addition to this announcement, President Manos Mavrokoukoulakis, has stepped down from his duties, as has Dimitris Gounaris, and other board members such as Christos Panagopoulos have announced their intentions to follow suit. This leaves the club in further limbo off the field, and former player Vasilis Konstantinou will resume the role of ‘President’ with his first mission being bringing the Panathinaikos fans back to Leoforos for this weekend’s match against PAS Giannena to create a big atmosphere in order to show their support to the playing group and manager Marinos Ouzounidis. Konstantinou stressed the importance of this as it will demonstrate to the players that the fans are behind them no matter what, and that a united front is the only way forward.
As previously reported, following the embarrassing loss to Panetolikos, Ouzounidis himself called for a meeting with Alafouzos to see where he stood and what the plan was for the short-term future. However, as with the backtrack on the promise to contribute funds until the end of the season, the meeting never went ahead. Instead Ouzounidis was informed of Alafouzos’ decision to cut any funding by his associates. As expected, the issues surrounding the club and the uncertain future, have filtered all the way down to academy level with technical director Takis Fyssas also calling for a meeting with Alafouzos. Once again no meeting has taken place and Fyssas himself will have to decide what happens next in relation to the academy.
The decision by Alafouzos to opt against investing any further will also have a wide variety of impacts on the club at many levels. Panathinaikos will be under surveillance from UEFA after September 30 when the deadline passes for attempting to clear part of the debt incurred. Uncertainty in the dressing room will reach new levels as players will be unsure if they will receive payments. This follows on from past players such as Essien, Wemmer, and Thelander still awaiting full payment. Signing quality players in the January transfer window is now zero chance, instead the only way forward will be selling the best players. However, other well-run clubs will be aware of the situation Panathinaikos finds itself in and will swoop for bargain buys, rather than paying the true worth of the player, knowing how desperate the club is for money.
Until then, in order to survive beyond October, it is hoped sponsorship money will be brought forward to assist in paying even the most basic needs such as the wages of the playing group and coaching staff, and hotels and transport for away games. However, it is thought that may not be enough to cover the total amount of costs. This sums up just how uncertain and ominous the future is for a club that has fallen beyond words.