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Shareholding family get more active in running Panathinaikos

The bedlam at Panathinaikos this week following the club’s collapse against Olympiakos in last Sunday’s crucial second-last round encounter could lead to upheavals in the team’s squad during the summer break, but no major changes appear likely on an administrative level. The team’s president, Angelos Filippidis, appears to remain the preferred choice for the job by the club’s ownership, the powerful Vardinoyiannis family of entrepreneurs. Yesterday, however, indications of minor revisions in the administration’s decision-making process did surface. Yiannis Vardinoyiannis, whose father Vardis Vardinoyiannis holds a majority stake in the soccer club, took initiatives that suggested he would have a say in the club’s future administrative procedures. The young Vadinoyiannis held meetings with representatives of the club’s organized fans – who caused damage to team facilities and players’ cars on Tuesday – and the team’s trio of captains. These moves suggest that Filippidis will not have exclusive control over the club’s management. Vardinoyiannis, during his meeting with the team’s captains and with Filippidis in attendance, asked them to lend support to the club’s president and avoid inciting further rage with controversial remarks. Earlier this week, Panathinaikos players complained that Filippidis insulted them with humiliating remarks following last Sunday’s defeat, which virtually eradicates the team’s hopes for the league title. Filippidis denied degrading his players but said he had the right to demand an explanation for the team’s debacle against Olympiakos. Vardinoyiannis also condemned the president of Olympiakos, Socrates Kokkalis, for behaving controversially weeks ahead of last weekend’s clash, which, ultimately, inflamed tempers between rival fans. Last Sunday, Olympiakos played before a particularly fervent home crowd that welcomed the visiting side with scores of flares tossed onto the pitch during its pre-match warmup. Vardinoyiannis said that neither he nor his family would ever resort to dubious tactics, even if it cost the team a title. Olympiakos has won the Greek league’s last six titles and looks set for another. Olympiakos is locked in top place with Panathinaikos, but has the advantage as a result of a better aggregate record in their two games this season. At third-placed AEK, two points behind Olympiakos and Panathinaikos (which, mathematically, gives the team some hope for the title should the competition stumble in the final round and it does not), one man who appears determined to hold firm is its dodgy shareholder Makis Psomiadis. Contrary to previous indications, close aides said yesterday that he would not sell his 38 percent stake in the club to one of the club’s three major shareholders, ENIC. Psomiadis’s aides said he was unhappy over a delayed payment by ENIC as well as the prospective buyer’s pressure for a 60,000-euro discount on the deal. It seems that the matter could go to a UK court in November. Including a possible appeal of the court’s decision, this dispute could drag on at least throughout next season. Legal representatives for Psomiadis in the endangered transaction notified Yiannis Granitsas, AEK’s president, about the strongman’s refusal to carry on with the deal. Besides ENIC, NetMed and the amateur AEK Sports Club are the other two major shareholders.