Those Maloofs of Europe, George and Panagiotis Angelopoulos, have apparently given up their ownership of the Olympiacos franchise and they’ve done so in a big way.
In their (apparently philanthropic) run with the Reds going back to 2004, the pair have become known as running one of the freest spending operations in Europe – yet never won a Euroleague or EΣAKE title, while rival Panathinaikos amassed a combined 10 such championships during that time span. Today, the team is rumored to be in the poor financial shape currently plaguing more than a few European clubs – though in a bigger way, for sure.
In a scathing statement announcing their decision, the Angelopoulos Brothers touted their own accomplishments and the good Olympiacos had achieved by adding a whopping $50 million to government coffers. And then the positive was no longer accentuated…
The brothers went on to decry “behind-the-door mechanisms,” “unethical attacks” and, that oft-used allegation of Greek basketball, referee corruption. “Once again this year the decisions of the referees and the usual manipulations determined the champion,” stated they.
(One wonders what exactly EΣAKE officials and team owners would have to gain by rigging the championship into the same team’s favor for *nine straight seasons*. Could it be that, in the 2011 championship series, rampant whistle-blowing in game two aside, Panathinaikos generally spread the offense around better and dominated the Reds’ D in the halfcourt game?)
The official statement from Giorgios and Panagiotis Angelopoulos, courtesy Eurobasket.com, runs below.
“We got involved in Olympiakos S.F.P. Pireus BC exclusively out of love for the club and for basketball. We never sought any business profit, publicity or other benefit whatsoever. In 2004, we decided to financially support Olympiakos S.F.P. Pireus without any return or guarantees. In the summer of 2006, we took over the management and in July 2009 we acquired the shares of Olympiakos S.F.P. Pireus BC.
“During these years many things have happened that we are proud of:
“- Olympiakos S.F.P. Pireus regained its credibility in the basketball world, nationally and internationally.
“- We invested in top notch players and first rank coaches; thus, after many years, the team became highly competitive and is generally accepted as ranking amongst the best European clubs.
“- The team participated, after many years, in two consecutive Euroleague Final Four and, after 13 years, in the final of the 2010 competition. It scored a record number of wins in the Greek league twice (2009 and 2011) – it actually came through undefeated in this year’s regular season – and won two Greek Cups.
“- Olympiakos S.F.P. Pireus BC paid to the state a total amount of approximately $50 million in taxes alone; we wonder if there is any other team which has paid any such amount of money [to the federal tax collection agency] in the last 20 years…
“All these years we chose and consistently followed a specific path, very different from the one of our opponents.
“- It is our conscious decision not to be involved in any way whatsoever in behind-the-door mechanisms controlling and influencing circumstances, teams and championships. We did not want to do it and did not do it. As far as we are concerned, any success which is the result of manipulations and referee favoritism is not real success. End of story.
“- It is our conscious decision to communicate with basketball authorities (the state, the Hellenic Basketball Federation/EOK, the central refereeing committee/KED, the Hellenic Basketball League/EΣAKE) directly, openly under our name and through official channels only.
“- It is our conscious decision to reject the model of creating, financing and supporting team-associated press or influencing any media; instead our interaction with journalists has remained at a strictly professional level without commitments and dependencies.
“- It is our conscious decision our relations with the fans of Olympiakos S.F.P. Pireus to remain healthy and in a context of mutual respect.
“- It is our conscious decision to do everything in our powers in an effort to contribute to the quashing of violence, wherever its origin. This year, we, with the support of our fans, succeeded.
“Once again this year the decisions of the referees and the usual manipulations determined the champion. One does not even know where to start or end when it comes to the Greek refereeing establishment…
“Not only those who have repeatedly and flagrantly wronged Olympiakos S.F.P. Pireus have never been punished, but are on the contrary rewarded and provocatively promoted. It is no wonder that they have become audacious to such incredible levels as the world record of 18 versus 2 free throws during the second period of the second game in the finals at a point when Olympiakos S.F.P. Pireus had a 10-point lead!
“The last game of this year’s finals has taken place under conditions which should not have even allowed it to start in the first place: inadequate security measures, thousands of fans entering illegally without ticket, security zones violated, masked persons and henchmen presented behind the team benches and the officials desk in full TV-broadcasted view under the tolerance of the police, and as a highlight, the unmanly and unprecedented criminal attack against the players and coaches of our team.
“We are not going to shift our responsibilities to anybody. We have never done so and we are not going to do so now. [Along the way] we have certainly made mistakes. We have been criticized many times. Criticism made in good faith, even harsh, has never disturbed us. With regard to unethical attacks, the only way available is to resort to justice.
“This is our philosophy, what dictates our actions. We are proud that throughout the years that Olympiakos S.F.P. Pireus was under our leadership we have never forfeited our values.
“[Along the way] we have demanded the self-evidence, namely legality, equal treatment and transparency. We intervened and protested in public and made specific proposals.
“During all these years we fought off a system that reacts tenaciously and undermines persistently our efforts to achieve what our team and fans deserve.
“Taking into account all the above and having exhausted all options which are consistent with morality, legal order and common sense, feeling disgusted, we step out, heavy-heartedly, from our team, Olympiakos S.F.P. Pireus, and Greek basketball.
“We would like to thank all those that during all these years believed in us, supported us and fought with us.”