Giannakopoulos looking to secure new beginning for Panathinaikos
Panathinaikos owner Dimitris Giannakopoulos is looking to follow through on his word and secure a new home for Panathinaikos in the FIBA Basketball Champions League…
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With no end in sight to the ongoing saga between Panathinaikos owner Dimitris Giannakopoulos and the EuroLeague executive board, Panathinaikos look closer than ever to securing an exit from the EuroLeague in favour of a move to the FIBA Champions League.
After the saga reached a new boiling point earlier this week when Giannakopoulos released an expletive-laced statement directed at EuroLeague CEO Jordi Bertomeu, it appears a fresh chapter will be added to the saga this weekend.
Reports indicate that Giannakopoulos will be conducting negotiations with the FIBA Champions League brass in hopes of securing a transfer to the competition for next season, with the first meeting taking place on Thursday.
FIBA Champions League CEO Patrick Comninos initially confirmed the reports of a meeting between Panathinaikos and FIBA, with Giannakopoulos first meeting with FIBA’s Secretary General Patrick Baumann – who is in Athens for the Final Four of the FIBA Champions League – on Thursday.
Giannakopoulos will likely lobby for financial support in hopes of relief from the reported €10 million exit fee Panathinaikos will be forced to pay in order to break their long-term licensing deal with the EuroLeague.
From FIBA’s perspective, the governing body will be hoping that by securing the transfer of Panathinaikos to the FIBA Champions League then perhaps other titans of European basketball will follow suit.
Speaking after the meeting, Giannakopoulos seemed optimistic of securing a deal though he warned that there is still plenty of work to be done before the Trifylli make the move to the FIBA Champions League.
“When you see that something has failed, you have to examine every possibility, for Panathinaikos to play in a competition worthy of its fans. EuroLeague has failed, everyone can see that”, Giannakopoulos explained.
“BCL exists for three years and has already taken big steps forward. With Panathinaikos’ presence, I think that the competition will grow even faster,” the Panathinaikos owner continued.
In the aftermath of Giannakopoulos’ statement and antics of the Panathinaikos president, ten clubs from the EuroLeague signed a joint statement condemning Giannakopoulos’ actions and indicated that they would seek legal action as a result.
“The multiple attacks that Mr. Dimitris Giannakopoulos has been making in recent weeks, with which he has gravely offended individuals, groups and Euroleague Basketball itself, has led to all Euroleague Commercial Assets Shareholders Executive Board (ECA Board) member clubs other than Panathinaikos Athens to evaluate the situation amongst themselves and with the management of the competition,” read the statement released by the EuroLeague.
Among the ten clubs named in the joint statement is Panathinaikos’ arch-rivals Olympiacos, as well EuroLeague giants Fenerbahce, CSKA Moscow, Barcelona, and Real Madrid.
Speaking to the statement released by the EuroLeague, Giannakopoulos seemed surprised about the developments and hinted that Panathinaikos has been in negotiation with some of the clubs named in the statement.
“There has been contact with other teams, though I doubt if they have all read today’s announcement. I want us to be part of a respectful competition,” concluded Giannakopoulos.
Should Panathinaikos secure a EuroLeague exit then it will be the second time in the club’s history that the Trifylli have left the first tier of European basketball after the club opted not to participate in the 1997/1998 FIBA EuroLeague – though this was prior to the establishment of the EuroLeague as a separate entity from FIBA.
During the 1997/1998 season, Panathinaikos instead participated in Europe’s second tier competition, the FIBA EuroCup. Panathinaikos remained competitive with a run to the semifinals of the EuroCup while also winning the Greek Championship that season.