Mayor claims threats over stadium plans

The Mayor of Nea Philadelphia-Nea Halkidona Aris Vasilopoulos was due to file a suit on Tuesday, 24 hours after a group of around 50 men claiming to be AEK supporters prevented a meeting of the municipal council from taking place due to a dispute over the club’s plans to build a new soccer stadium.

Six people were injured in the attack on Monday, which Vasilopoulos believes was an attempt to warn councilors against objecting to the construction of the stadium in Nea Philadelphia, where AEK had its home ground until 2003.

“They acted like an organized group, with leaders and clearly defined roles,” Vasilopoulos told Kathimerini. “That is why we believe they are an organized gang. We recognize some of their faces from previous incidents.”

Local officials have complained in recent weeks that they have been regularly intimidated. AEK has denied any connection to the assailants and issued a statement yesterday declaring its opposition to the latest incident.

Vasilopoulos said he had informed the police ahead of the municipal council meeting that he feared the gathering would be disrupted but, according to the mayor, authorities did not provide any security.

AEK unveiled plans in October 2013 to build a 33,000-seat state-of-the-art stadium on the site of the old ground. But the plans mean that part of Nea Philadelphia park will have to be given over for the construction of the new stadium.