Tough times for other European clubs
Panathinaikos are not alone in their struggles, as several other European ambassadors face similar ark times.
Panathinaikos’ financial struggles have been well-documented for some time now. Panathinaikos were Greece’s main ambassador on the European front for many years, until recently when disaster struck. Those glorious European nights are nothing but a distant memory for now. However, the Greek giants are not alone as an array of Europe’s most iconic, well-known and well-respected clubs are also experiencing a crisis of their own.
In light of the Greens’ struggles, here is the lowdown on some other European heavyweights.
For the first time in a whopping 55 years, Anderlecht will not play in Europe after finishing sixth in the Belgian playoffs. This club peaked in the 1970’s and 1980’s after winning the UEFA Cup in 1983, the UEFA Super Cup in 1976 and 1978, and the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup in 1976 and 1978. They also made the semi-finals of the European Cup in 1982 and 1986. After last season’s struggle, they have turned to former player Vincent Kompany as a player-manager.
Grasshopper Club Zurich (Switzerland)
In its 132 years of existence, the Swiss giants have won an incredible 27 league titles and 19 cups to dominate Swiss football. However, they finished in a disappointing tenth spot which has led to relegation for the first time in 70 years. During a game against Luzern, fans threatened to invade the pitch as they did against Sion as they were losing 4-0. Some players threw their shirts at furious fans and the game was called off.
The Turkish giants endured a frustrating season which almost resulted in what would have been an embarrassing relegation due to financial mismanagement. Although known as a club with a traditionally big budget and big names in its roster, things have gone from bad to worse. They must adhere to UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules and shed 50% of its contracts to be compliant. They will not play in Europe next season.
This season was a nightmare for the big spenders in the south of France. They signed Thierry Henry as coach and things did not improve. In fact, they only finished one spot and two points above the relegation zone (17th in Ligue 1). Safety was only secured in the second to last round of the season. Only two years ago, this club won the French Ligue 1 and made the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League, however, those days are long gone. They also made the final of this competition in 2004, with Greek midfielder Akis Zikos on the roster, but lost out to FC Porto.