AEK in danger of European expulsion
On Friday, AEK will learn their fate after the disgraceful scenes witnessed during the UEFA Champions League meeting with Ajax in November, with the Athenians at risk of being excluded from European competition.
Back on 27 November 2018, AEK hosted Ajax at the Olympic Stadium, however the Champions League group stage match was undermined by trouble between rival fans. Inside the OAKA, a section of AEK supporters approached the sector containing Ajax fans, hurling flares and a Molotov cocktail towards them. Although no casualties were reported, the scenes shocked the footballing world, and AEK, Ajax and Panathinaikos fans had fought against each other the night before the match. AEK eventually lost the game 0:2 and came in last place of Group E.
Today, a hearing took place concerning the case, with AEK representatives Minas Lysandrou and Angeliki Arkadi defending the Greek club in a conversation with the UEFA Disciplinary Committee. However, given the severity of the violence witnessed in Athens, the outlook isn’t overly positive.
The worst case scenario is UEFA suspending AEK from all European competitions. Unfortunately for the Kitrinomavri, this is a real possibility, and media sources have stated that it will be difficult for AEK to avoid such a punishment. Nevertheless, AEK are hopeful that it would be a suspended sentence, meaning the Greeks would receive one more chance to put things right. Any other incident would then result in AEK being suspended from UEFA tournaments.
It’s practically a certainty that AEK will at least be forced to play a certain amount of European home matches behind closed doors, alongside receiving a heavy fine.
The likelihood of AEK being banned from European competitions is a damaging prospect for the Enosis. This season, AEK are likely to qualify for the 2019/2020 UEFA Europa League on the basis of their Super League showings, however a UEFA ban would completely ruin the club’s plans. Without the attraction of continental football, AEK will find it tough to sign any players of a decent calibre, while the task of keeping prolific Argentinian striker Ezequiel Ponce in Athens will suddenly become even more tricky. AEK will also struggle to to pay the high wages received by the likes of Petros Mantalos and Marko Livaja without revenue generated from competing in UEFA competitions.
AEK are hoping for a suspended sentence from UEFA, which will allow them to play in European tournaments in the 2019/2020 season. The decision made by UEFA will be made public on Friday.