Theodoropoulos’ Plan For Safety Abruptly Halted
Following yet another low point and embarrassment for Panathinaikos fans to deal with from the weekend, moods had temporarily brightened with the news that entrepreneur Spyros Theodoropoulos met with former Panathinaikos players to discuss ways forward without having a huge debt hovering over the club.
Theodoropoulos met with a group of ex players such as Antonis Antoniadis, Mimis Domazos and Vasilis Konstantinou (who is the current PAE president) in a central Athens hotel and hope was all of a sudden again been renewed. The plans of Theodoropoulos were not to take over the struggling club in any way, but rather play a helping role in bringing back the glory days with a stable front office.
His plan was simple - asking the Panathinaikos world for donations which would comfortably wipe off a large portion of the existing debt due to be paid off by the end of this season. His intention was to ask 300,000 fans to each contribute 50 Euro which would raise 15 million Euro. If this was to occur, it would provide significant breathing space.
On top of this, Theodoropoulos, who has been a long-term sponsor of the club, would raise his sponsorship as of this season. One thing to take away from this meeting, however, was that there is “magical solution” as stated by the wealthy businessman himself. It was this lack of ‘quick fix’ that prompted Theodoropoulos to abandon the ambitious project as it was never his intention to find that instant solution.
He immediately sought to downplay the significance of the meeting claiming nothing has been agreed upon and his plan for safety was still in its infancy. Domazos did leave the meeting in an optimistic manner, hopeful of further talks, and Antoniadis indicated further meetings would take place with three other wealthy businessmen, particularly Andreas Gavrielidis. More recent former players such as Angelos Basinas and Giourkas Seitaridis were also present. This however has all come to an abrupt standstill.
In order to understand his motives it is best to get an insight into his past. Theodoropoulos was born in Athens in 1957 and grew up in a commercial environment as his father had a dairy shop inherited from his grandfather. This helped pave the way for a successful career in the business world. This was exacerbated by the loss of his father at an early age where he acted as a father figure in the family. By 1986 he had completed his studies and gained enough managerial experience to acquire 50% of a company called “Chipita”. Three years later he bought the remaining 50%.
He has taken Chipita to new levels as he was the first entrepreneur to package croissants. This came after he was forced to diversify the company’s operations due to the Greek Government changing laws regarding the selling of shrimps. Chipita now has strong power in exports with a presence in 67 countries across Europe, Africa and America (as well as a new factory opening in Asia).
He has been described as a person who is discerning, daring and a massive risk-taker who is open to new challenges. His relationship with Panathinaikos also goes back a long way. He has been a fan for many years and it is estimated he has already put 1 million Euro into the club during the Alafouzos era. On top of that, he was also a sponsor of the Euroleague basketball. This is why it should come as no surprise as to why he met with former Panathinaikos players in the first place to discuss plans for potential safety.