Super League tinkers with playoffs

The Super League decided on Thursday evening to introduce a play-out phase at the end of soccer’s regular season and to make a small change to the playoffs. The bottom two clubs will be automatically relegated to the second division after the round-robin 30 weeks of play, but the two clubs finishing above them will contest a home-and-away play-out to decide which will be the third side that goes down if the gap between them is no greater than three points. The team that finishes 13th will host the 14th in the decisive second leg of the tie. The Super League announced it is changing the points system for the playoffs, dividing by five and not by three the difference of points between clubs from the second to the fifth spot in the regular season. This means that, for instance, if a team that was third with 10 points difference from the fifth club (which always starts at zero points), it would enter the playoffs with two instead of three points with the new system. The change is intended to add more interest to the playoff phase with teams entering it with less of a gap between them. The Super League meeting agreed that the playoffs last May had little to offer to fans, as fourth-placed Aris and fifth-placed Panionios had little to expect from that phase. The league’s organizers are also considering staging all playoff games on the weekends and not on Wednesdays, to ensure better attendance at games. Another decision concerned the precise date and time of the opening-day derby between AEK and Panathinaikos. It will take place at the Olympic Stadium in Athens on Sunday, August 31, at 9.15 p.m. No CAS case Apollon Kalamarias, the Thessaloniki club that was relegated in May to second division, decided to withdraw its challenge to the decision concerning Roman Wallner from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland. The case of the Austrian player shook the Super League last season as the decision by the Greek sports judge and the Hellenic Football Federation (HFF) ruled that Apollon Kalamarias would lose the three points they had gained after beating Olympiakos at home and also have another point deducted. HFF had decided that Wallner had been ineligible to play for Apollon against Olympiakos after playing for two other clubs in the same period. Apollon took the case to CAS but its injunction application was rejected in May. The full case was to be heard this month but the new administration at the Kalamaria club that took over from previous owner Vangelis Damilos decided to drop the case and concentrate on winning promotion back to the Super League.