ECA and member clubs unite against Panathinaikos owner and take legal action

Euroleague Commercial Assets (ECA) and its ten member clubs have all shared their respective positions on Panathinaikos owner Dimitris Giannakopoulos and will be taking legal actions.

Without actually stating it in a statement, it means that Panathinaikos’ status in the EuroLeague looks to have been severed and instead of making up, it is certain to go into a court of law.

Full EuroLeague statement:

The multiple attacks that Mr. Dimitris Giannakopoulos has been making in recent weeks, with which he has gravely offended individuals, groups and Euroleague Basketball itself, has led to all Euroleague Commercial Assets Shareholders Executive Board (ECA Board) member clubs other than Panathinaikos Athens to evaluate the situation amongst themselves and with the management of the competition. After a thorough assessment, all 10 clubs* unanimously share the following position:

1. They reiterate that the behaviour of Mr. Giannakopoulos is totally contrary to the ethical principles and values of sport, in particular going against the principle of respect, which is the cornerstone of relations between members of a sporting community. As such, the ECA Board will adopt the appropriate regulatory measures to assure that this person cannot be involved in any activity of Euroleague Basketball until this behaviour has completely and definitively ceased. The use of denigratory statements or constant public pressure and verbal aggression in an attempt to influence the sports results and to attack the competition, its members and directors, has no place in a professional league. A professional league that the clubs have been building over the years and that, at this moment, is offering fans the best basketball competitions in European history.

2. The other 10-member clubs of the ECA Board together with the President and CEO of Euroleague Basketball have given instructions to their legal advisors to initiate judicial procedures against Mr. Dimitris Giannakopoulos with the purpose of repairing the damage that he has caused to the image, the honour, the integrity and the credibility of the competition, of the clubs, of the referees and of the competitions management including the Euroleague Basketball President and CEO.

3. The 10 clubs as the ECA Board and the competition management reiterate their desire that Panathinaikos continues to form part of the top competition in European basketball. It is their strong belief that the club’s fans and history should not be prejudiced by the deplorable behaviour of one person, nor should those fans see themselves deprived of enjoying the best basketball competition in Europe, to which their club belongs.

The ten member clubs: Anadolu Efes, CSKA Moscow, Barcelona, Fenerbahce, Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv, Olympiacos, Olimpia Milano, Real Madrid, Baskonia and Zalgiris have each stood firm and with this announcement, Panathinaikos’ future could be in jeopardy.

It has been reported that Panathinaikos are in advanced talks to join the FIBA Basketball Champions League next season but nothing has been set in stone yet.

Reports also suggest that Giannakopoulos and FIBA are set to meet in Athens ahead of the Basketball Champions League Final Four, which starts on Friday.

“With Panathinaikos having expressed their prospect of joining, we began a dialogue with the management of the club, not only the owner,” said Basketball Champions League CEO Patrick Comninos.

“There’s an entire spectrum of transition. It’s the same procedure we follow with all the teams that want to play in the Basketball Champions League. We don’t underestimate the eight that the name of Panathinaikos carries. But the procedure is the same. The meetings, exchanging views. Explaining how the Basketball Champions League is organized. What it means for a team to be there.

“During the next days, there will be discussions also at a political level. It makes us happy that one of the biggest clubs in Europe wants to discuss with us. I imagine that we will have more developments the next weeks. We remain faithful to our principals. When the playoffs are completed we’ll have a clearer picture.

“We have prepared many things in order to attract the fans. I won’t reveal everything of course. I expect people to come.”