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Basketball club owner in bid to buy Panathinaikos, Olympic Park

Dimitris Giannakopoulos, the owner of Greek basketball club Panathinaikos, has submitted a proposal to acquire the Athens-based football club of the same name and the city’s Olympic Park.

The country’s Deputy Sports Minister, Giorgos Vassiliadis, confirmed the offer to buy the outdated venue, which has fallen into disrepair since serving as the centrepiece of the 2004 Olympic Games, which saddled Greece with huge debts and a series of white elephants.

The offer to acquire the financially-troubled Panathinaikos Alliance, which controls the football club, is contingent on buying the Olympic Park, according to the Kathimerini news service. Giannakopoulos would be supported by other foreign investors, including a construction group, a UK-based fund and an international hotel group, which plans to build a hotel at the Olympic Park.

Giannakopoulos entered into talks to snap up the Panathinaikos Alliance last autumn with the holding company’s controlling shareholder, Giannis Alafouzos, after the latter announced his intention to offload the club following a series of off-the-field problems. However, Giannakopoulos curtailed discussions at the time due to the debts that would have been incurred in taking over the club.

Greece itself also has well-documented ongoing financial challenges, and the government remains keen to sell off certain state assets, including the Athens Olympic Park, to raise money.

Aside from developing a hotel on the site, Giannakopoulos’ investment group plans to replace the existing basketball court with a new facility and also demolish the Olympic Stadium, although its roof would be retained for a new football stadium.

Reports have suggested that a deal could be completed within a month.