‘Let’s be bigger than Chelsea’

Andreas Vgenopoulos, the chief executive of the expanding Marfin Investment Group and the man leading a group of businessmen who want to invest in Panathinaikos, put forward yesterday a five-point plan that he believes could help the soccer club rival teams such as English side Chelsea. «Millions of green hearts demand cooperation and nothing can stop us,» he said at a press conference. «Together, we are more powerful than [Chelsea owner Roman] Abramovich.» Vgenopoulos claims that some 80 businessmen have now joined his group, the Unifying Movement of Panathinaikos, and are ready to combine their financial muscle for the good of the club. He also denied that he was looking to profit from any involvement in the club. The five proposals made by Vgenopoulos and his group include the idea that the option of owning a stake in the club should be opened up to millions of Panathinaikos fans and that a technical committee of former players and people who support the club should be formed to conduct the day-to-day running of the club, including transfers. He also suggested there be an increase in share capital to allow for more cash to be injected into the club so Panathinaikos can compete on a European level and that the club should work more closely with the members of its most hardcore supporters club. Vgenopoulos insisted the group does not want to oust owner Yiannis Vardinoyiannis from the club. «It would be not be fair to the Vardinoyiannis family, which has supported this club for 30 years, for someone to appear out of nowhere and want to take over the soccer club,» he said. The co-owners of the Panathinaikos basketball club, Pavlos and Thanassis Giannakopoulos, also gave their backing to the Unifying Movement of Panathinaikos. «It is unacceptable to all of us for Panathinaikos to be in this situation; you can’t support this club and be ashamed of saying it.» Cup draw The quarterfinals draw for the cup took place yesterday, pitting second-division Thrasyvoulos against holders Larissa; Olympi-akos against Iraklis; Xanthi against Aris and Atromitos with the winner of the replay between OFI and Agrotikos Asteras.