Panathinaikos inches closer to approval for new ground

Panathinaikos, one of Greece’s two biggest soccer clubs in terms of popularity and success, appears, judging by comments made by the Athens mayor yesterday, to have taken a further step toward being granted permission for a new stadium in an area that has prompted reactions in the past. Following a meeting with Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis, Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyannis of the ruling New Democracy party said the municipality was «open to proposals» for a new soccer stadium in Goudi. In the past, she has voiced support for other alternatives. Panathinaikos’s sustained interest in acquiring a new stadium at the Goudi site, which is owned by the Ministry of Defense and has been classified as parkland by the state, was shelved by the previous government following protests by environmental protection groups, local municipalities and residents. Yesterday’s likely nod of approval from the mayor comes in the wake of Public Works Minister Giorgos Souflias’s recent promise that the issue would be resolved within the next two months. For some time now, Panathinaikos has tried to move from its outdated downtown Leoforos Alexandras stadium to a modern ground with greater capacity. Municipality officials have said they would offer consent for a new stadium at Goudi only if the adjacent area is developed into a metropolitan park. The municipality, owner of the Leoforos Alexandras stadium, says that if the Goudi alternative proceeds, it will demolish the existing old stadium for more greenery and a square.