PAOK Receive Harsher Penalties for Cup Final Fan Violence
Almost a month after the Greek Cup final, the Disciplinary Committee announced the penalties that await AEK and PAOK regarding the fan violence that took place in Volos. PAOK were vigorously punished with a six point deduction and seven match closed stadium ban while AEK were only punished with a three match closed stadium ban and no point deductions.
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On Thursday morning, the Hellenic Football Federation (EPO) Disciplinary Committee announced the penalties that will be handed to both AEK and PAOK for the disgrace that took place during this year’s Greek Cup final at the Panthessaliko stadium. In PAOK’s case, the price they will pay will be much higher when compared to AEK’s.
AEK were penalized with a 3-match closed stadium ban and a financial fine of €170,000, while PAOK were hit with a fine of €282.500, a six point deduction enforced in this year’s playoffs, and a SEVEN match closed stadium ban. In other words, next season the Thessalonikis will play almost half of their home Superleague matches without fans (7 out of 15).
According to the judges, both teams were held responsible for their fans’ behaviour although the rule book clearly states that teams hold no responsibility if they are absent from the stadium during any sort of incidents. In the case of this year’s Cup final, the widespread episodes began at 18:20 local time when PAOK fans invaded the pitch, however the teams arrived at 19:15 (AEK) and 19:25 (PAOK), respectively.
As a result and according to the rules, the clubs cannot be held responsible for what took place before their arrival. The court justified their decision by claiming that the scheduled arrival time of the teams was when the episodes began and the teams did not make it to the stadium on time due to the fan violence. The unclarity of the situation will likely be re-looked at in a second degree when appeals are lodged by both teams.
At a first glance PAOK’s harsher punishment seems unjustifiable, however according to the committee, the Dikefalos tou Vora were under “probation” due to last year’s pitch invasion at the Toumba stadium during their Cup semifinal against Olympiacos. As a result, an additional 3 point deduction and an additional 3 match closed stadium ban was added to their penalties for this year’s Cup Final incidents (3 point deduction and a 4 match closed stadium ban). Thus, PAOK will be deducted a total of 6 points (3+3) from this year’s Superleague playoffs and will play seven (3+4) home matches in a closed stadium next season.
AEK, on the other hand, were not punished for the widespread episodes that took place on the pitch. They were found guilty only for what happened off the pitch. As a result, they were handed a 3 match closed stadium ban and a fine of €170,000. Unlike PAOK, AEK were not given additional penalties despite also being on “probation” from last year’s incidents with Atromitos. Against Atromitos, the Kitrinomavri were accused of fan pitch invasions whereas in the Cup final, they were not accused of any sort of pitch invasion.
PAOK’s 6 point deduction is enough to change the playoff standings, giving Panathinaikos second place behind AEK. However, it is of little importance as it does not change either teams’ place in next year’s UEFA Europa League qualifying rounds. As it was previously to this decision, both Panathinaikos and PAOK will begin in the UEFA Europa League third qualifying round.
The final standings of the Superleague playoffs are below:
1. AEK 12
2. Panathinaikos 8
3. PAOK 5
4. Panionios 4