Friday Frappé: The Beginning of the End?
AGONAsport’s Peter Katsiris discusses how Olympiacos’ decision to forfeit the Eternal Derby clash against Panathinaikos could be the beginning of the end for the Greek Basket League…
As expected, Olympiacos will not take to the court for Sunday’s Eternal Derby clash with Panathinaikos after the Central Refereeing Committee appointed three Greek referees to oversee the contest at the Peace and Friendship Stadium.
Sticking to their vow of not facing Panathinaikos on the domestic scene without the presence of foreign referees, Olympiacos have announced that no tickets will be made available for Sunday’s game in anticipation the club will forfeit the contest.
While Olympiacos’ decision serves as little surprise since the events during the Greek Cup semifinal between the Erythrolefki and their archrivals, the ramifications of the decision could signal the end of the Greek Basket League as we know it.
Olympiacos haven’t hidden their discontent with the refereeing hierarchy in Greek basketball, citing their main issues during a Basket League board meeting last week. The Erythrolefki have requested that foreign officials be appointed for all Eternal Derby clashes while also lobbying for the control of the refereeing authority to be transferred to Basket League as opposed to the current setup under the Hellenic Basketball Federation.
While it was somewhat unreasonable to expect the Basket League to insert a rule change midseason, the League’s refusal to honour such a request could signal a downfall of the championship.
A big part of the Basket League’s downfall rests on the matter of Olympiacos gaining entry to the neighbouring Adriatic League after the Piraeus side formalized their intent to join the league as early as next season.
Olympiacos’ departure from the Basket League would certainly strike a dent to the League’s prestige, while also forcing a shakeup of the Greek basketball hierarchy to accommodate such a loss.
Perhaps this is what has prompted Panathinaikos to pen a letter similar to Olympiacos’ communication to the Adriatic League. Controversy aside, Olympiacos have long been Panathinaikos only rival for every Greek title and the departure of the Trifylli’s main threat domestically could pose all sorts of problems for the Athenians.
Panathinaikos, who have long been active players on the international transfer market, would likely see a decrease from top-level talent to join the league even if the club continues to hold a EuroLeague license.
Olympiacos wouldn’t be immune from these consequences either as the club’s grueling schedule should they be included in the Adriatic League could rule out players not keen to travel to the likes of Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, and Bosnia week in and week out.
Of course, a lot can change between now and the start of next season with the Basket League authority even capable of inserting a special provision for foreign officials for all derby clashes – similar to the current setup in the Greek Super League.
Nevertheless, should Olympiacos depart the Basket League this summer the consequences could be felt especially by both Eternal Rivals.