SPORTS

Iraklis and Panionios risk relegation

By George Georgakopoulos

The Hellenic Football Federation's licensing committee rejected applications from Iraklis, Panionios and Panserraikos on April 20, which means they are immediately relegated to the Football League, pending a possible appeal.

While Panserraikos's relegation was already certain after it finished last in the regular season of the Super League, Iraklis and Panionios will be desperately trying to avoid the drop after the competent committee of the federation turned down their applications for a license to play in the top flight.

"The club will get the license because it fulfills all the necessary conditions. Anyone who rushed to celebrate will expose themselves once again,» an Iraklis statement said.

Larissa actually appealed to Prime Minister George Papandreou on April 20, asking him to intervene and ensure that clubs that do not meet the licensing requirements do not get to play in the Super League. The Thessaly club asked for an end to «the selective application of the legislation.»

Although the licensing committee did not make known what was missing from the two clubs' applications, it is likely that their rejection was based on financial grounds and particularly on money owed to former or current players.

The three clubs have five days to file an appeal, with the federation's appeals committee set to issue its final verdict by the start of the playoffs, in two weeks' time.

Until then, Iraklis and Panionios can be considered relegated, but that does not signify safety for any of the other clubs that got relegated, i.e. Asteras Tripolis and Larissa. A decision by the federation last week confirmed that in case a club does not get a license, it will be replaced by a club from the second division.

Consequently, given that the top three teams of the Football League will gain promotion according to the rules, the teams to finish fourth and fifth could also get promoted if Iraklis and Panionios fail in their appeals.

Iraklis was in a similar situation last summer, but eventually managed to secure a license at the last minute by settling its debt with former players.

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