Greece Set To Leave Karaiskakis For Home Matches
It appears as though the use of the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium as the national team’s home venue is nearly over. Reports from Greece suggest that the new leadership in the Hellenic Football Federation (EPO) is keen to find a new ground for the Ethniki to call home.
The reasons for this decision are numerous. The high cost of the use of the Piraeus stadium is certainly a focal point. The other main concern is the recent spike in crowd trouble at Ethniki matches. Fights, confrontations with journalists, and even attacks against fan groups such as the Galanolefkos Faros national team supporters have all been seen over the last couple of years. These incidents are virtually non-existent with supporters of other national teams, but rather trouble caused by hooligan elements who take their club affiliations to national team matches.
The hope of many was to use PAOK’s Toumba Stadium in Thessaloniki as it was believed that ground could make for a superb atmosphere for national team matches. However, Toumba is set to undergo full renovation next May meaning thus meaning it cannot be used for national team matches.
The Pankritio Stadium in Heraklion, Crete has been discussed, but is said to longer be in consideration. The AEL FC Arena in Larisa was also thought of, but the poor state of the pitch, the small capacity, and lack of a local airport means it is not in contention.
The favorite at this stage is the Kaftanzoglio Stadium in Thessaloniki. This is a national stadium which is undergoing a full pitch replacement and would meet all security demands necessary.
The final decision is set to be made after Greece’s two playoff matches for a chance to make the 2018 World Cup. The team’s home match in the playoffs will be played at the Karaiskakis Stadium, representing the last time Greece play there for the foreseeable future.