SPORTS

Iraklis, Panionios fans cry foul

The Super League and its prestige have been seriously hurt by developments regarding the failure of Iraklis and Panionios to qualify for licenses for next season, with everything, including relegation and the forthcoming playoffs, coming into question.

Outstanding debts meant the two clubs were denied a license to take part in next season’s Super League by the licensing committee of the Hellenic Football Federation (EPO) on April 20, triggering a strong reaction by their fans, who will see their clubs relegated unless their appeal is successful.

Some 5,000 Iraklis supporters marched through Thessaloniki city center on April 26 demanding that their club be spared relegation and asking for equal treatment for everyone, implying that other clubs have debts, too.

The march was marred by clashes with the police and with a number of PAOK fans, creating havoc in the city center for about an hour. Police used tear gas to disperse the crowd.

In contrast, a march by about 400 Panionios fans from Nea Smyrni to the Parliament in the center of Athens on April 25 passed off peacefully.

Panionios was also somewhat relieved on April 27 to hear EPO deny press reports that the Nea Smyrni club did not have the appropriate tax clearance to make its transfer moves in January.

Had that been verified, it could have led to a major change in the final standings of the Super League after the regular season, replacing Olympiakos Volou with Aris in the playoffs. Earlier on April 27, Aris’s managing director, Yiannis Kontis, had stated that his club intended to call for the draw of the playoffs to be postponed from April 29.

Meanwhile, Thessaloniki police announced on April 27 that a top-flight club based in Greece’s second-largest city has borrowed from a money-lending racket, staking its television contract in the process. The amount cited by the police was 514,000 euros.

Reports suggest that a former board member of Iraklis was among the nine people arrested for alleged involvement in the racket.