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Defending Greek Soccer Champion PAOK Docked 7 Points, Remains 2nd

Αssociated Press

PAOK's players celebrate their sides first goal during the Champions League third qualifying round, first leg soccer match between PAOK FC and AFC Ajax, at Toumba Stadium in the northern Greek port city of Thessaloniki, Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)

ATHENS — Defending Greek league champion PAOK Thessaloniki was deducted seven points on Thursday for breaching ownership rules, severely hampering its efforts to overtake league leader Olympiakos.

League organizers said they are also deducting 12 points from Xanthi for breaches. Both clubs have the right to appeal.

PAOK said in a statement that it had been denied “an effective trial by a proper court.”

After the deduction, PAOK remains in second place with 52 points, 14 behind Olympiakos. Xanthi is now 12th with 18 points.

The decision follows a public clash between the owners of PAOK and Olympiakos, which lodged a complaint claiming that the Thessaloniki club had breached ownership rules.

PAOK had initially faced relegation, but the government quickly changed the law to allow the club to have points deducted instead.