Panathinaikos banned from Europe for three years by UEFA

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Panathinaikos players celebrate a goal against Athletic Bilbao in a Europa League match, last year. The Greek club has been banned from European competition for three years by UEFA for failing to pay their debts. (Reuters)
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The Panathinaikos side that played Ajax in the European Cup Final at Wembley, in 1971. The Athens club has a big pedigree in Europe but has been ruled out of European competition for three years. (Wikimedia Commons)
Updated 24 April 2018
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Panathinaikos banned from Europe for three years by UEFA

  • Panathinaikos players went on strike earlier this month over unpaid wages, and had also been hit with a three-point deduction by the Greek Super League over outstanding debts owed to former defender Jens Wemmer.
  • The 20-time Greek champions have a rich heritage in Europe, having lost the 1971 European Cup final to Ajax before semifinal defeats by Liverpool in 1985 and Ajax in 1996.

PARIS: Greek giants Panathinaikos have been banned from European competition for three years by UEFA for failing to pay their debts, European football’s governing body announced on Tuesday.
The club were handed a suspended sentence in December and given until March 1 to settle their unpaid bills, but failed to do so and have been fined €100,000 ($122,398), having also been ordered to pay the same amount in December.
They appeared unlikely to qualify for Europe next season anyway, though, sitting seventh in the Greek top flight.
Panathinaikos players went on strike earlier this month over unpaid wages, and had also been hit with a three-point deduction by the Greek Super League over outstanding debts owed to former defender Jens Wemmer.
Owner Yiannis Alafouzos agreed to sell the club to an Asian investment group on Saturday.
The 20-time Greek champions have a rich heritage in Europe, having lost the 1971 European Cup final to Ajax before semifinal defeats by Liverpool in 1985 and Ajax in 1996.
Earlier this season, they were beaten by Athletic Bilbao in the Europa League playoff round.
Greek football has been plagued by controversy this season, with several high-profile incidents.
PAOK president Ivan Savvidis was banned for three years last month after invading the pitch with a gun during a game against title rivals AEK Athens, while former Olympiakos coach Oscar Garcia was hit by a cashier’s roll thrown by a PAOK fan during a match in February.
The Spaniard later resigned after Olympiakos president Evangelos Marinakis fined and exiled first-team players over perceived bad results.


Pakistan's Azhar Ali signs for Somerset

Pakistan's Azhar Ali celebrates reaching his century during a match between England and Pakistant on August 4, 2016. (Reuters file)
Updated 16 July 2018
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Pakistan's Azhar Ali signs for Somerset

  • Azhar is set to make his Somerset debut against Worcestershire later this month

LONDON: Pakistan batsman Azhar Ali has joined Somerset for the remainder of their first-class English County Championship fixtures this season, the southwest club said Monday.

The 33-year-old replaces Australia opener Matt Renshaw, who made three hundreds at 51.30 in the opening rounds of the Championship before breaking a finger against Surrey at Guildford last month.

Azhar is set to make his Somerset debut against Worcestershire later this month.

"The standard of first-class cricket in England is very high and I hope that I can make a contribution to Somerset winning matches," Azhar told his new county's website.

"I have heard good things about Somerset and I was impressed by what I saw at Taunton in 2016 (when Pakistan opened their tour of England that year against the county).

"I am looking forward to joining my new team mates and meeting the Somerset supporters soon."

Azhar struggled during Pakistan's three Tests against Ireland and England earlier this season, making 73 runs in six innings although his lone fifty did come during Pakistan's impressive victory over England at Lord's.

"Finding the right fit at short notice can be challenging, however we are delighted to have secured a player of Azhar Ali's character, pedigree and class for the remaining seven Specsavers County Championship matches," said Somerset's director of cricket, Andy Hurry.

"His experience at the top of the order will prove to be hugely valuable at the business end of the season.

"I have spoken to him several times over the last few weeks and he is very keen to share his knowledge of the game with our aspirational players, so the influence he can have within the changing room will also be vital for us as a club."