Olympiakos starts the season with a new squad

With nine new additions to its roster over recent weeks, fans of defending soccer champion Oympiakos, winner of the Greek league’s last seven titles, will be eager to catch a glimpse of the club’s new blood at tonight’s opening training session for the new season. Fans will also be looking out for striker Lambros Houtos, who has run into controversy with the club’s management over a contractual dispute, and, as a result, is not particularly popular among supporters at present. Houtos is contending that a private document, awarding him additional bonuses worth nearly 450,000 euros, had been signed with Olympiakos three years ago when he joined the club. But Olympiakos denies that such a deal was ever reached. The player, who returned to Athens from summer vacation yesterday, immediately met with his lawyer to prepare an announcement, which is expected to be delivered early today. According to reports, Houtos will turn up for practice. Olympiakos’s management tends to blame Houtos’s meddling father for his son’s «unwarranted» claim. Houtos’s father in the past has complained loudly about what he considers his son’s limited playing time and said he would shop him around to big European teams. In other contract news, the club yesterday nullified a lucrative contract with Colombian defender Jorge Bermudez, who failed to live up to his reputation with Olympiakos. Bermudez will move on to Argentinean club Newel’s Old Boys. Olympiakos is also expected to nullify another disappointing expensive signing, Brazilian player Ze Elias. The entire Olympiakos squad will relocate to Austria this weekend for its pre-season training campaign. The team also announced that it will launch a 24-hour hot line for the needs of players and officials in the new season. The practice is common among big European clubs. A hot line to management is what Slobodan Subotic, coach of Olympiakos basketball club, needs. His request for a meeting with Olympiakos boss Socrates Kokkalis has not yet been granted. It is said that Subotic, who presided over Olympiakos’s worst season in the basketball league since 1990-91, has fallen out of favor. He is also the coach of Slovenia’s national team and his decision to keep both jobs and get both teams to share summer training camp facilities has not gone down well. Sources close to management accused him of neglecting Olympiakos.

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