SPORTS

Giannakopoulos bids to buy Panathinaikos soccer club, rebuild Olympic Stadium

GEORGE GEORGAKOPOULOS

TAGS: Soccer, Basketball, Privatizations

Deputy Minister for Sports Giorgos Vassiliadis confirmed on Thursday morning a press report according to which the owner of the Panathinaikos basketball club, Dimitris Giannakopoulos has tabled a proposal for the acquisition of the soccer club as well as the Olympic Stadium of Athens in cooperation with foreign funds.

Sports daily Live Sport reported on Thursday that Giannakopoulos has submitted a detailed proposal that includes the buyout of the cash-strapped Panathinaikos soccer club from Panathinaiki Alliance, led by Yiannis Alafouzos, on the condition that Giannakopoulos and his partners also acquire the Olympic Sports Center (OAKA) – that hosted the 2004 Athens Olympics – in its entirety.

His plan, the newspaper explained, concerns the demolition of the Olympic Stadium with the exception of the roof that was designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava ahead of the 2004 Games, and the construction of a soccer ground at the site. The basketball court will also be demolished, with a new one set for construction.

There are more than three foreign companies and funds involved in the project, the report noted, including a major construction group, at least one UK-based fund, and an international hotel group which is interested in constructing and operating a sizable hotel unit at OAKA.

The report added that Vassiliadis also has an alternative plan in mind, that provides for the slicing the OAKA privatization in a number of tenders, so that there is a separate one for the basketball court to that for the main stadium and to another for the velodrome, etc.

OAKA is among the state assets the government has lined up for privatization, and will have to go through the process of an international tender.

On Thursday Vassiliadis informed Sport FM that the press report on the so-called “Athens Alive OAKA” project is well-founded, and did not refute any part of it.

The report specifically noted the communication between Giannakopoulos and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on the issue via a third person who is a PM’s aide.

It further said that talks are at such an advanced stage that the deal may be sealed and announced – including the takeover of the soccer club – within a month, i.e. by Easter.

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