Soccer clubs at odds over future TV deal

Growing opposition by professional Greek soccer clubs, most of them from the first division, against an intended broadcasting deal sought by the chief representative of professional local sides, has put the official’s position in jeopardy. Dissatisfied by the terms of a broadcasting agreement being drafted for the new season, a total of 17 clubs, led by Panathinaikos, one of the country’s two biggest clubs, are pressuring to oust the deal’s orchestrator, Thanassis Kanellopoulos, president of the association of Greek soccer clubs (EPAE). Kanellopoulos, who is being backed by Olympiakos, the country’s other powerhouse club, over the issue, has seen his grip on authority loosen over recent days. The number of clubs opposed to his broadcasting policy has grown from 12 to 17, among them AEK, Aris, Iraklis, Panachaiki, and Panionios. In a bid to win time for a possible solution, Kanellopoulos postponed yesterday’s EPAE board meeting for July 21. The 17 opposing clubs, however, are pushing for the meeting to take place this Friday. Kanellopoulos also postponed the association’s crucial general meeting, where perennial rivals Olympiakos and Panathinaikos are expected to test their strengths, on an institutional level, until July 28. The 17 clubs have also reacted against EPO, the Greek Soccer Federation, which is trying to limit the number of soccer games that can be televised in order to ensure a better package for the teams. «We strongly protest the recent decision by EPO to regulate the number of games available for television broadcasting,» EPAE noted in a statement yesterday. The statement added that, as such, the federation was exploiting «a major commercial issue» during a sensitive time when new broadcasting deals were being negotiated.

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