Panathinaikos Signings’ Limitations, Piempongsant’s Plan

Panathinaikos Signings’ Limitations, Piempongsant’s Plan

Following the outcome of last Thursday’s Board of Directors’ meeting, Panathinaikos avoided the worst case scenario for failing to obtain a licence to participate in next season’s Championship. The old punishment of relegation has been replaced with new rules, however, these new regulations have the potential to seriously harm any club if the issue continues to be unresolved.

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At the moment, the club is not expected to obtain a licence and therefore faces the possibility of starting next season on -6. This 6 point deduction will practically end the Greens’ 2018-19 campaign before it even begins, but it does not stop there. On top of this, there are also major ramifications in terms of being able to acquire new players and make signings.

An unlicensed team will be able to sign an unlimited amount of Greek players under the age of 23 (that are eligible for the National Team) but in the upcoming summer transfer window it will only be allowed to sign one player over the age of 23 (Greek or foreigner). This would undoubtedly be a blow for Panathinaikos as the current squad is relatively young and in need of experience.

Furthermore, in next season’s January transfer window, the club will be allowed to sign only one Greek player over the age of 23 but no foreigner. A maximum of 2 contract extensions can be granted to current squad members over 23. These extensions can occur in the summer or winter transfer window (1 in each or 2 in either window). In these 2 extensions, a pay rise is not permitted.

In the case of Panathinaikos, most of the current squad is contracted beyond this season. This means that a player is bound by their existing contract unless they file an appeal or terminate their contract. Only 7 current players are off contract at season’s end - Molins (already stated he is leaving), Lod, Kace (likely to return to PAOK), Mystakidis (likely to return to PAOK), Donis, Evangelou and Bouzoukis. 4 of these players are over 23 and the club can only offer new contracts to 2 of those players.

New signings will not be allowed to receive contracts in excess of 100,000 Euro. The club would not be allowed to transfer money to another team for a permanent or loan signing. In other words, only free transfers would be permitted. A loan signing is considered as a transfer. This means that if the club signs a Greek or foreigner over 23, it cannot sign another Greek or foreigner in any way.

As it can be observed, if there is no change in ownership the Trifylli is headed for a path of destruction, with Marinos Ouzounidis already stating he would leave at season’s end should things remain in their current state in terms of ownership. There is also a chance 6 teams will be relegated next season in line with streamlining the Championship to less teams. Consequently, a 6 point deduction before a ball is kicked would be catastrophic.

Pairoj Piempongsant has been made aware of the new rules and is very concerned as he wants Panathinaikos to be competitive from the beginning of his takeover. As a result, he is actively seeking a solution. His legal team will reportedly look for ways around the punishment, though any success is unlikely.

Additionally, Piempongsant has called his close friend, Pini Zahavi, to Athens. The Israeli agent is known for his involvement in the ownership changes at Chelsea and Portsmouth, as well as the record-breaking transfer of Rio Ferdinand. The purpose of his visit to Greece is unknown.

In the coming days, the Thai businessman will examine Panathinaikos’ Koropi-based training centre and will confirm former Chelsea manager Avram Grant will become the new CEO of the club.

by Nick Tsambouniaris
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