SPORTS

Soccer clubs uphold decision to suspend league for a month

Greek soccer league organizers EPAE announced yesterday they will uphold a decision to halt play this weekend as teams struggle with the loss of crucial television revenues. «We insist on the decision taken by the general assembly and united we’ll fight for our demands,» said EPAE President Thanassis Kanellopoulos. Soccer organizers are seeking a government bailout after the collapse of the Alpha Digital pay-TV channel that broadcast many of the games. But the government has refused. The loss of the revenues – estimated at about 35 million euros a year – throws into question the survival of many Greek clubs. A glimpse of what is to come was seen yesterday, when EPAE deducted 12 points from first-division club Ioannina for unpaid debts amounting to 205,400 euros. Ioannina has yet to gain any points after four rounds and the deduction makes its relegation to second division all but certain. EPAE’s general assembly voted earlier this month to cancel this weekend’s matches and resume play on October 26-27. No other Greek league matches are scheduled in the interim because of national team play and municipal elections. Alpha Digital had contracts with 10 of the 16 first-division clubs, including league contenders Panathinaikos, Olympiakos and AEK. It suspended live broadcasts on September 11. (AP)