Alafouzo, It is time to act
For much of the last week, much of the spotlight has been on Thai businessman Pairoj Piempongsant and Pan Asia, as the Swiss-based company has made big moves to buy the majority shares in Panathinaikos. There is genuine interest in the proposed deal from both parties, but in the meantime there are pressing matters that need to be dealt with swiftly.
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Panathinaikos has already been dealt a major blow by UEFA, as the club has received a ban from participating in any European competition for the first time in the next three seasons that the team qualifies for such a competition. If the Greens were to finish 5th this season, they would serve their ban immediately by not taking place next season but being able to participate after that. The same applies if the team does not gain a spot this season, but does so next season.
A whopping 6 points have already been deducted in relation to the case of former fullback Jens Wemmer, where Alafouzos has failed to pay him. As a result, the club is at serious risk of being automatically relegated. If Wemmer is not paid within the next 10 days, another 3 points will be deducted and the Trifylli will be relegated for the first time in its illustrious history due to having 3 separate instances where points are deducted for failing to pay players.
Speaking of a failure to pay players, the current squad has gone weeks and months at a time without being paid. This has led to strikes from training and disrupted preparations in the lead up to matchdays. Above all, the club has still not obtained a license to participate in next season’s Championship.
Club management is begging for other clubs to vote in favour of changing the Regulation, but now is not the time to rely on others. The time has now come for Alafouzos to act. If he does not pay Wemmer or obtain a license, the famous club will be relegated and any takeover deal will almost certainly be off the table. Alafouzos has to dip into his pockets and pay up, it is as simple as that.
The rumoured deal with Pan Asia has acted as a welcome distraction and has offered a ray of hope, without a doubt. The interest appears to be genuine and the group has experience in European football. Then of course, the Giannakopoulos’ offer (involving a large-scale makeover of OAKA) is still on the table. So as it can be observed, there are solutions that can save the club and bring a welcome return of the glory days. However, in order to make either of the aforementioned moves come to fruition, Alafouzos must step up, act and pay. Does he really want to be remembered as the one who was largely responsible for relegating Panathinaikos?
On another note, Ouzounidis and the players that have stayed behind in these dark times cannot be congratulated enough. The big win at Nea Smyrni against a notoriously tricky Panionios is proof of how mentally strong the team is. It was also great to see Luciano playing again after a horrible injury and scoring. The togetherness and bond in the squad is unreal and one cannot help but think how much of an influence Ouzounidis had there. On the whole, they are a likeable bunch of guys who are trying their hardest in such difficult circumstances. Hopefully some of them will be there if or when things get better. No one will deserve it more than them and above all else Ouzounidis himself, who could have left at any time throughout this turbulent season.