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SPORTS

Dimitris Giannakopoulos Talks Votanikos, Panathinaikos’ Future in Press Conference (Video)

June 29, 2019

ATHENS – Panathinaikos AO President Dimitris Giannakopoulos Friday morning called reporters into a press conference at the OAKA Olympic Sports Complex in Athens. A clearly heated Giannakopoulos began the press conference addressing the recent departure of Panathinaikos BC coach Rick Pitino and the appointment of Argyris Pedoulakis as his successor. Giannakopoulos cited serious family issues as the reason that Pitino announced that he would not be returning to the reigning Greek domestic double winners, having, according to Giannakopoulos agreed on everything else.

Following the brief discussion about the management of the basketball club, Mr. Giannakopoulos addressed the financial future of Panathinaikos and all its sporting departments, sounding a “Panathinaikos Alarm” to highlight the fact that without immediate financial partners to help him shoulder the burden of managing all the clubs departments, Panathinaikos will cease to exist.

Mr. Giannakopoulos shed light on recent meetings that he had with the mayor-elect of Athens, Kostas Bakoyannis and New Democracy and Hellenic Parliament Opposition Leader, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who is widely tipped in polls to be Greece’s next Prime Minister regarding the decade-old plan to construct a Panathinaikos sports complex in the industrial neighborhood of Votanikos in Athens. Panathinaikos AO’s President said that at a later date, after the July 7th Greek general elections, he would hold a joint press conference with mayor-elect Bakoyannis and together they would tell the public exactly how the Votanikos project will be financed and what to expect from it.

Giannakopoulos in the past has wanted all the sporting departments of Panathinaikos AO to be housed at the rapidly deteriorating Olympic Sports Complex in Athens, pointing to the fact that the stadiums and facilities were already and place and just needed to be modernized in a “facelifting” plan. However, as Mr. Giannakopoulos claims, due to hidden interests by government officials, rivals and the Greek clumsy bureaucratic system, the plan was unable to become a reality despite securing the support of foreign investors on top of Giannakopoulos’ funding.

During the course of his press conference, Mr. Giannakopoulos called on the owner of the football department of Panathinaikos, Yannis Alafouzos, to accept a €20 million offer to give up his majority shares of the club to Panathinaikos A.O. so that Mr. Giannakopoulos can assume the mantle of all the sporting departments of Panathinaikos. To that point, Giannakopoulos lamented the fact that for years he has fought by himself to save the basketball department and the various other departments without the support of other wealthy fans of Panathinaikos. Additionally, he pointed to the fact that numerous times over the years, Alafouzos himself has said that he no longer desires to be involved with Panathinaikos and is actively looking for a way out

Giannakopoulos stated that if by July 1, 2020 there is still no meaningful financial support from wealthy fans of the club and regular fans of the club alike so as to raise another € 20 million  to get “Panathinaikos’ engine going” not just temporarily, but permanently, he said he will leave the club the day after that deadline. He hopes that when he gets the necessary, legally binding guarantees from the Greek state following the July 7th Greek general elections that other major players such as Giannis Vardinogiannis will emerge as partners in a renewed Panathinikos revival.

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