Panathinaikos’s new ground to be delayed

Panathinaikos fans will have to wait until sometime after the March 7 elections to find out whether they will be able to watch their soccer team play at a brand-new stadium in the near future. Fans are incensed over the government’s move last year to lease the dilapidated Karaiskaki Stadium to archrival Olympiakos for 49 years. Olympiakos is now building a brand-new, 35,000-seat soccer ground in which the team will play beginning next season, while Panathinaikos will have to make do, at present, with the refurbished, but very old and cramped 15,000-seater at Leoforos Alexandras. On Monday night, Panathinaikos fans staged a march outside their ground demanding that the current Parliament, which adjourned yesterday for the elections, vote to provide Panathinaikos with public land in the area of Goudi, in eastern Athens. There were banners demanding that justice be done and threatening to vote against the government, «the friends of (Olympiakos owner Socrates) Kokkalis,» as a banner said. Yesterday, Environment and Public Works Minister Vasso Papandreou revealed in a letter to Panathinaikos President Argyris Mitsou that the club had never submitted its request and proposal in writing. «As you know, the government has expressed its will to solve the problem of the location of Panathinaikos’s sports installations, as it did with Olympiakos and AEK, because it believes the great and historical teams should be housed in modern stadiums. However, the solution that will correspond to Panathinaikos’s needs must be… free of city planning and environmental complications. For this to happen… it is essential that you submit Panathinaikos’s proposals in writing,» she said.