State will not bail out soccer wastrels

Soccer clubs clamoring for the government to indirectly take on part of their losses from the contracts they had signed with now-defunct pay TV channel Alpha Digital faced a determined negative response from the government. «The government does not want to open a Pandora’s box… We will not enter a discussion that concerns a clash of business interests,» Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos told reporters yesterday after meeting with representatives of the Association of Professional Football Clubs (EPAE). Alpha Digital, set up last year, went into liquidation on Wednesday. It had enticed the great majority of teams from the top three divisions away from rival platform Nova – owned by Netmed – by offering big contracts. The vast majority of the teams, who depended heavily on the contracts for their operational expenses, may even be in danger of extinction unless some cash injection takes place fast. Some of the teams have gone back to Netmed’s fold for a fraction of the money they were supposed to get from Alpha Digital. AEK, one of the top teams, is negotiating with private channel Alter TV, but the channel is offering a mere 44,000 euros to the team, which has asked for 300,000 euros. Including a sponsorship logo on team uniforms, AEK was supposed to get 13 million euros from Alpha Digital this season. Venizelos and his deputy, Giorgos Lianis, rejected EPAE’s demand for funds from state pool and lottery company OPAP’s most lucrative game, Pame Stoichima (Let’s Bet). Intralot, a company owned by Olympiakos owner Socrates Kokkalis, is a partner in Stoichima, they explained.

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