EUFootball.biz recently reported that the Greek national government had suspended funding of the Super League. Revenue from the state-controlled betting organization (approx. €17m), OPAP, will not be distributed to league clubs until recent flare-ups in supporter violence have been properly addressed.
But is this a move just for supporter safety? While it is admirable that the government is taking such an active stance towards violence in stadiums, the timing seems extremely convenient given Greece’s recent fiscal troubles.
The Greek government has come under pressure in recent months due to fallout from the global economic crisis and a worsening national budget overburdened with spending. Bailout packages have been proposed by European Union members but they are likely to come with demands for fiscal cuts from the Mediterranean nation. Additionally it has large tranches of debt coming due, with tens of billions of euros needing to be raised in the coming months.
Anyway you slice it Greece has a lot of bills piling up over the next year and needs to clean up its financial shop. It is looking to cut back in anyway possible and football might be a convenient department untied to vital public services. Greek football has also been spending far beyond its means relative to the size of its market, possibly to the point that I should revise my prediction of Spanish football getting bailed out to Greek football.
In light of all this it would not be surprising to find that the recent decision on Super League revenues was motivated just as much by finance as by supporter safety.