Football: Greek club Panathinaikos close to Thai sale, claim media reports

Panathinaikos' Bryan Cabezas celebrates scoring their second goal with his teammates during their Europa League playoffs match against Athletic Bilbao in Athens, on Aug 17, 2017.
Panathinaikos' Bryan Cabezas celebrates scoring their second goal with his teammates during their Europa League playoffs match against Athletic Bilbao in Athens, on Aug 17, 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS

ATHENS (AFP) - Thai entrepreneur Pairoj Piempongsant on Saturday took a step closer to acquiring a majority stake in financially-troubled Greek club Panathinaikos,Greek media reported.

Piempongsant met current owner Yiannis Alafouzos in Athens and agreed that his firm Pan Asia Investments will provide 27 million euros (S$43million) in order to take control of the 20-time Greek champions, the reports said.

An accountancy firm will carry out due diligence on the team's finances, which is expected to take around 20 days, and then a sale will go through unless there are any hitches, the report. If the sale is completed, Panathinaikos will become the first Greek professional football team owned by a foreign group.

Athens-based Panathinaikos were banned last month from European competition for three years by Uefa for failing to pay their debts. At any rate, they have failed to qualify for Europe next season as with one match remaining in the Super League this season they are in 12th place.

This week the club paid off outstanding debts to their former defender Jens Wemmer to avoid being demoted to the second division. Panathinaikos's current squad has held two strikes over the last two months over unpaid wages.

The club has have a rich heritage in Europe, having lost the 1971 European Cup final to Ajax before semi-final defeats by Liverpool in 1985 and Ajax in 1996.

Earlier this season, they were beaten by Athletic Bilbao in the Europa League playoff round.