Soccer title loss one too many for Panathinaikos head Philippidis

The repercussions of Panathinaikos’s failure to win this season’s soccer league title are still being felt. Yesterday, the club’s president of three years, Angelos Philippidis, announced his resignation after recent moves at the club indicated that its owners had severely limited his administrative powers. Major administrative responsibilities at Panathinaikos, including dealing and deciding in the transfer market, were passed on to one of the club’s leading officials, Velimir Zajec, a former player at the club, after the team narrowly missed out on winning this year’s league title. Yet despite holding the administrative helm in recent days Zajec was, to the surprise of many club insiders, not appointed as the new club president. The position was given to Argyris Mitsou, a member of Panathinaikos’s board over the past three years, who in the past has served as a doctor for the club and the national team. Mitsou, reports said, will not be responsible for all the various administrative domains handled by Philippidis but he is expected to work closely with Zajec. Panathinaikos, the front runner for most of the season, was toppled from the top spot just two rounds before the season’s end following a heavy loss to the eventual champion, Olympiakos. It is widely believed that the strained ties between Philippidis and Panathinaikos in recent weeks resulted from the club’s failure to net a league title for the seventh consecutive season. Olympiakos has won all titles during this period. Last week, guided by Zajec, Panathinaikos named Israeli Itzhak Shum, formerly of Maccabi Haifa, as its new coach. Philippidis was said to have fought for his predecessor, Uruguayan Sergio Markarian, to stay on before he left the club. Before his resignation yesterday, Philippidis’s activity had been limited to updating players on the administration’s intentions regarding their contracts. During his final hours as executive, Philippidis held meetings with three players – Carlos Sainio, Goran Vlaovic, and Emmanuel Olisadebe – to discuss their contracts, about which only Olisadebe reportedly walked away satisfied. He was the only one offered a bigger contract. Despite his diminished stature in the final days of his three-year term, Panathinaikos issued a statement that credited Philippidis with restructuring the club’s administration and other sectors to standards enjoyed only by European clubs. «During these years, the club’s administration was reorganized according to European standards and developed into a network indispensable to any club aspiring to be a front runner on a European level,» the statement said. «Domains such as academies, modern marketing and the establishment of a club history museum were developed in exemplary fashion. Also, the [team’s] European successes in the last three years proved that Panathinaikos can be a front runner in Europe and be Greek soccer’s major ambassador,» it added. Philippidis had long been expected to run on the main opposition New Democracy party’s ballot for next year’s national elections. The impact of his forced resignation from Panathinaikos on his prospective political career remains unclear.

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