Panathinaikos manager ‘quits for Portsmouth’

Defending champion Panathinaikos’s team manager, Velimir Zajec, who has played a key role in the major Greek soccer club’s administrative decisions in recent seasons, including transfers as well as the recent resignation of Israeli coach Itzhak Shum, abandoned his post yesterday. It has been reported that the 47-year-old Croat, a former star player and coach of the Athens club, who also won 57 Yugoslavia caps, is set to assume a similar position at English Premier League club Portsmouth. The club, currently 10th in the standings, is headed by Serbian-born chairman Milan Mandaric. Last night, Portsmouth had not yet commented on reports that Zajec was moving to the club. It is believed that Mandaric and Zajec had first discussed the latter’s move to the English club last season. But Zajec, well placed in an authoritative position at Panathinaikos, had resisted. His powers there, according to insiders at Panathinaikos, currently top of both the Greek league and its Champions League group, had recently diminished.