Greece bid farewell to Karaiskakis Stadium and go house hunting
It wasn’t only Greece’s World Cup qualifying campaign which came to an end on Sunday. Following the completion of the playoff game against Croatia, it became known that the Ethniki will no longer play their home fixtures at the Karaiskakis Stadium in Piraeus.
The Greeks have called the Karaiskakis Stadium home for the past twelve years, but the Hellenic Football Federation (EPO) want a change. According to sdna.gr, the reason behind the EPO’s decision could be an incident which occurred during the Gibraltar match in October, when a fan was reported to have been assaulted. Moreover, the EPO’s contract with the Karaiskakis Stadium has run its course.
Two concrete options for a new home appear to be in the pipeline. The Olympic Stadium in Athens (OAKA), an arena which Greece did play at in the past, is one of the two, and it would certainly be an obvious choice. However, sdnr.gr also states that the Kaftanzoglio Stadium in Thessaloniki will be the Ethniki’s joint home arena along with the OAKA in Athens. The 27,000 capacity venue does need some upkeep, but improvements to the stadium are promised when PAOK begin playing there while their new Toumba arena is constructed. It will be up to the EPO to decide how the two arenas share Greece’s matches.
Nevertheless, two more arenas have offered their services to the Ethniki. Aris’ Kleanthis Vikelidis Stadium is available for the national side, however the pitch does need to be replaced before any talk of Greece playing there can commence. The final option is the Pankritio Stadium in Heraklion, Crete. The Heraklion Football Federation released a statement in which they congratulated the Greek national team with the improved World Cup qualification campaign, going on to mention their desire to host an Ethniki match in Crete.
Still, it does seem that the Olympic and Kaftanzoglio stadiums are the most likely options for Greece’s new national team base. Time will tell just where the Greeks decide to set up camp.