SPORTS

Nea Smyrni stadium filled with nails and paint ahead of playoff

For the second time in three years unknown people have caused damage at the municipal stadium of Nea Smyrni ahead of a game that does not involve local side Panionios, as paint and nails were reportedly found on the pitch a few hours before the Super League playoff between Panathinaikos and Xanthi on Thursday.

The first inspection on the pitch on Thursday morning revealed minor damage that according to reports is repairable, so that the match can kick off at 8 p.m. This is the game that will determine which team will occupy the sixth spot in the final table of the Super League.

A number of men are said to have broken into the stadium in southern Athens on Wednesday night even though this was guarded following the warning issued a few days ago by a group of hardcore Panionios fans, the Panthers. The warning called on the Super League to stage the playoff elsewhere, threatening with violence.

Thirty people were detained and questioned about the incident, but there was no evidence found against them, so they were released in the early hours of Thursday.

In August 2010 AEK had decided to play its home game against Scottish side Dundee United for the Europa League at Nea Smyrni, but Panionios fans stormed into their own stadium and dug up the pitch. The stadium was deemed impossible to host the game, which was then moved to the Karaiskakis Stadium.