Soccer chief promises order

The national soccer team’s preparations for the Euro 2008 finals in June will not be affected by an ongoing legal dispute between the Super League’s top and bottom clubs that could reshuffle things at the upper end, Greek soccer federation boss Vassilis Gagatsis promised yesterday. Greece coach Otto Rehhagel has expressed concern over a legal dispute between league frontrunner Olympiakos and last-placed Apollon Kalamaria, which took its case to the Lausanne-based Court of Arbitration for Sport last month. Now relegated but at the time still hoping for survival in the top league, Apollon submitted its case to CAS in an attempt to regain four points it had lost for fielding an ineligible player. Olympiakos, which lost the game, was awarded three points. Gagatsis, speaking at a news conference yesterday held to present a new sponsor for the national team, confirmed that AEK and third-placed Panathinaikos were backing Apollon in its battle. With one round of play remaining, Olympiakos leads with 67 points, AEK is second on 65, and Panathinaikos follows on 63. Should the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s ruling favor Apollon, Olympiakos could be toppled from top spot, even second. However, according to international regulations, national sports federations are not obliged to enforce rulings issued by CAS. «We are requesting that the results of the Greek league not be ratified,» Apollon general director Christos Gatsis told The Associated Press yesterday. He said he hoped a decision by the Swiss court would be forthcoming by the end of this week. A spokeswoman for the court said it was aware of the case but did not say whether it would be heard and declined to make any further comment, The Associated Press reported. In the final round of play this Sunday, Olympiakos greets Iraklis. AEK hosts Asteras and Panathinaikos travels to Apollon. A newly introduced playoff system involving the clubs that finish second to fifth will follow to determine their final standings and entries into next season’s European club-level competitions. Dates for the six-round mini-league have not yet been set. The Super League’s regular home-and-away season has already fallen behind schedule following the postponement of games because of lethal wildfires last summer and the death of Archbishop Christodoulos in January.

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