Panathinaikos did not just lose the game this week, when Xanthi beat the Athens team 2-1 at home; it also lost its manager. Marinos Ouzounidis gave his resignation on Monday, though his decition is not definite – and is largely depending on the team’s change of ownership.
“I do not think another manager has ever faced such great difficulties in a major club,” he said in the post-game press conference at the Apostolos Nikolaidis Stadium, after the team’s poor performance. Panathinaikos recorded its worst showing in history, finishing 11th on the table, after it had 8 points deducted due to debts by the ownership and penalties accrued from fan action last season.
On the field, in the game resumed on Monday after Sunday’s storm, Panathinaikos led via Luciano Neves, but Xanthi turned things around with goals from Jorge Casado and Petar Durickovic to finish joint fifth and miss out on a place in the Europa League due to an inferior head-to-head record with Asteras Tripolis.
Ouzounidis has been at the helm for 18 months and is considered to have saved the club from relegation, but he said a renewal of his contract is not in order, at least not under the current management.
“The team is here, it appears a solution will be found and I hope it is found soon. I hope that at some point, under other conditions, we will be here again,” he said, a statement that was seen as a nod to the upcoming change in the club’s ownership. By the end of June, Panathinaikos FC will pass into the hands of PAN ASIA Fund, led by Thai businessman Pairoj Piempongsant.
The sale was confirmed on Saturday, but an audit of the club’s finances is in order, while shares are transferred from Giannis Alafouzos to the new owners. All decisions about the club are postponed until this process is completed, and many believe that Ouzounidis will have a role to play in the next phase of the historic Athens club.