Referees for the football fans, who will have the right to stop the game if the fans chant obscene slogans during sporting events - this is one of the ideas the president of the MIG Financial Group Andreas Vgenopoulos gave at a press conference on the problems in the Greek football club Panathinaikos. Less than a year ago, Vgenopoulos quitted the Board of Panathinaikos with a bang and was left with around 2% equity in the sports organization.
He opposed the exercise of force in any form, especially the speech violence and profanity that often are present during football games. To change this "trend" Vgenopoulos proposed special referees to stop the matches if football fans behave indecently. After the fans ruin two or three games, their behaviour would change. There were ironic smiles during the press conference itself and comments like "Is the football field a church?".
A week after the major shareholder of the football club Giannis Vardinogiannis left Panathinaikos Vgenopoulos felt obliged to gather the media and give his perspective on the management of the capital’s football club. He said Giannis Vardinogiannis has used his media power to denigrate his name and after 10 months of silence, he should reveal his truths from behind the scenes of Panathinaikos. Vardinogiannis family has interests in the Greek Mega TV and several newspapers, for which Vgenopoulos hinted that they distort the truth and blamed Giannis Vardinogiannis for the financial woes of the team.
Vgenopoulos described as irresponsible the behaviour of Giannis Vardinogiannis who holds 54.7% of the share capital of Panathinaikos to transfer its management in the hands of a law firm. "We are in a difficult moment. But in difficult times men differ from children. One must try," the head of Marfin Bank slapped with words the young Vardinogiannis decision to leave the game of making decisions for the team. He said that Panathinaikos is on the verge of bankruptcy, which requires an immediate increase in its share capital. To make this season, the eternal rival Olympiakos has to collect an additional € 15 million.
Andreas Vgenopoulos said that the increase in the share capital is inevitable and if not done in the near future, the team would fall under Law 3588/2007 on declaring bankruptcy. "This is the company of Vardinogiannis who has 54% stake in it. His business will fail," said the banker. Despite the dramatic state of Panathinaikos, he was adamant that he would not take part in the increase of share capital if Vardinogiannis initiates it. If the rich Greek family does not participate in the raising of new resources, Vgenopoulos promised he would do what he could, without entering into details what he meant.
If the share capital increase is carried out without the participation of Vardinogiannis family, the remaining shareholders will bear the procedures on their shoulders and their share will increase. Many Greek sports analysts determine that position of the head of Marfin Bank as an attempt to dethrone Giannis Vardinogiannis. It is not clear whether the operation will succeed because Vgenopoulos has not given a formal proposal to the board of the club. It is certain only that Panathinaikos has many problems and no one to solve them.
Another almost 10-year concern of the green football club is the lack of their own stadium. Andreas Vgenopoulos gave a hint that there are uncertainties about Giannis Vardinogiannis project for the construction of a new stadium in Votanikos in Athens. Besides the cases related to the environmental protection in the area it is under question how acceptable was the € 10.5 million funding of the project and the samples of the new field. He stated that it would make more sense to develop his 2008 proposal to build a stadium of Panathinaikos in today's Olympic Stadium (OAKA) instead of the problematic area of Votanikos. Once Vgenopoulos threw the gauntlet to Vardinogiannis, the fans of the club are anticipating a progress.