The Decline of a Giant

The National Herald

Apostolos Nikolaidis Stadium commonly known as Leoforos Alexandras Stadium or Leoforos Stadium, is a football stadium and multi-sport center in Athens, Greece. Leoforos has been the home ground of Panathinaikos FC for the most part of the club's existence. (Photo via Twitter)

Panathinaikos has been, and continues to be, in an utter free fall. The last league title that the historic club has won is now a distant 10 years ago, Olympiacos wins the domestic trophies at will and has now firmly supplanted Panathinaikos as Greece’s representative club in European competition. It’s been a slow, grueling death for the club that was known as the pride of Greece which brought clubs like Inter Milan, Juventus, and other behemoths to their knees.

What has happened to Panathinaikos is sadly endemic to Greece whereby much like the country with clueless, or worse, corrupt politicians, board of directors and managers passed through the club who had no business owning the Panathinaikos or governing the day to day operations.

It’s been painful to watch one of Greece’s great brands accept mediocrity and then slip so far that mediocrity becomes the goal. It reminds me a lot of Olympic Airlines where it was once the pride of Greece under the ownership of Aristotle Onassis and then, when turned over to the Greek state, and like most things turned over to the Greek state, it went bust.

Panathinaikos had one of the wealthiest families in Greece as guarantors of the club and they got run out by a mass movement of disgruntled, hardcore, fans who didn’t realize how good they had it. What they traded European glory for is a hapless businessman who bankrupts everything he touches and was famously not trusted by his own father to continue his legacy and advance the business interests of the family. In the end, we get the leaders we deserve and that same gentleman to a large degree dictates political opinion in the country and has one of its famous brands staring down the barrel of ruin.

In the reset of Greece post-COVID-19 let’s resolve to having competence trump nepotism. Free Panathinaikos!