Constructive meeting between rivals

An initial meeting between the owner of Panathinaikos soccer team and the man fronting a recently founded group that has strongly condemned the administration’s performance was held in good spirits yesterday. Yiannis Vardinoyiannis, the soccer club’s owner, and Andreas Vgenopoulos, who represented the action group, which calls itself the Unifying Movement of Panathinaikos (PEK), reportedly held a constructive discussion ahead of a share capital increase being planned by the club. A number of prominent businesspeople participated in the meeting. Vardinoyiannis is expected to hold further meetings with a further two or three businesspeople ahead of the announcement of details on his plan to raise 80 million euros for the club through the sale of additional shares. His stake, he has said, will be reduced to 50 percent, from just under 90 percent at present. «The meeting was constructive and our views and ideas coincided on a series of important issues with those of Vardinoyiannis,» PEK noted in a statement released shortly after yesterday’s meeting. «At this stage PEK feels the need to express its full satisfaction with the progress of discussions and the attitude of Vardinoyiannis, who appears determined to make a new start for Panathinaikos and Greek soccer in general,» the statement continued. Last month, thousands of Panathinaikos fans, frustrated by the soccer club’s lack of success over the past decade, gathered for a rally at which they called for Vardinoyiannis’s departure. Vardinoyiannis, who made a surprise announcement about the capital increase a little over a week later, denied that his move was linked to the rally. At the time, he noted that the funds to be raised by the share capital increase will be exclusively used for new signings and strengthening the squad. When Vardinoyiannis broke the news about the share capital increase, on April 22, he stated that he would provide full details within 20 days. Panathinaikos is currently locked in battle in the playoffs for a place in next season’s Champions League.