SPORTS

PAO stadium put on ice

The Council of State confirmed yesterday that it has rejected the appeal against the injunction measures it had issued halting the construction of a new mall at Votanikos, an integral part of the new Panathinaikos stadium project. As a result, no work at the building site for the shopping center by the Babis Vovos construction company can resume until March 6, when the plenary of the country's highest administrative court will discuss the appeal by 131 Athens residents against the construction of the mall, citing environmental concerns. News of the decision had leaked a week earlier, prompting strong reactions from all the parties concerned, including the management and employees of the construction company, the administration and fans of Panathinaikos as well as the City of Athens. Panathinaikos issued a statement yesterday reiterating that the club will continue its legal fight for the right to build the stadium, suggesting there may be some business or other interests behind the appeal. «The 131 people appealing, the city and the political party expressing them, as well as any business interests hiding behind them, have been creating obstacles through specific activity. We are stating clearly and unequivocally to all that anyone attempting to usurp the vision of millions of the team's fans to acquire a stadium of their own, for political or other motives, will find us against him,» the Panathinaikos statement read. Panathinaikos fans are planning a rally against the decision on Sunday, January 25, in Syntagma Square. The construction of the shopping center is essential for the so-called «Twin Regeneration» project, as its commercial operation will cover some of the funds required to execute the project, according to a law that received broad backing in Parliament. Separately, Panathinaikos confirmed the acquisition of 21-year-old Brazilian central defender David Braz de Oliveira Filho yesterday. The player, known simply as David, signed a four-and-a-half-year contract with the Greens. The club is also reportedly close to signing another central defender, Slovakian Jan Durica, from Russia's Saturn.

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