Panathinaikos owner Yiannis Alafouzos announced on Thursday he is leaving the club and is asking for any wealthy members of the Greens’ fan base to take over in this difficult moment for the capital’s biggest soccer club.
His public statement follows a summer of negotiations with the owner of the club’s basketball division, Dimitris Giannakopoulos that have proved fruitless, leaving the soccer team in limbo.
Alafouzos, who through the Panathinaiki Alliance group took the club over five-and-a-half years ago, said in his statement that after paying 42 million euros of his own into the financially troubled club since 2012, he is also undertaking debts of 20 million euros for the coming years, created by the commitments of his administration of Panathinaikos.
“I had the romantic fallacy that by setting up a healthy team without any relations behind the scenes I could help change the Greek reality. I was wrong. The systems and the mentalities that prevent our country from having a normal European soccer are deeply rooted,” said Alafouzos, asking fans to forgive him for “letting them down and for being unable to shoulder the responsibility any longer.”
He added that he has asked Vice President Vassilis Constantinou to lead a group of people who will see the club turn the page through asking all of the club’s fans to contribute in saving the team.
In his tenure Panathinaikos won one Greek Cup (in 2014) but was once eliminated from European competitions by UEFA for failing to cover its debts to former players.
This summer it was forced to sell some of its key players such as Marcus Berg, Sebastian Leto, Zeca, Victor Klonaridis etc. and the team is currently languishing at the 11th spot of the Super League table, having also been eliminated from Europe.
Still, Alafouzos will be credited with saving the Greens from going bankrupt in 2012 and preventing a fate similar to AEK’s relegation to the third division.