PAS Giannina (Greek: Πανηπειρωτικός Αθλητικός Σύλλογος Γιάννινα - Panipeirotikos Athlitikos Syllogos Giannina), the Panepirotic Athletic Association of Giannina, is a Greek association football club based in the town of Ioannina, the capital of Greece’s Epirus region.
In 2007-08, the team finished fourth in Greece’s Second Division. The club is probably best known among Greek football spectators for its fervent support.
The rise of the 'Ajax of Epirus'
PAS was formed in 1966
as a result of the union of the two local teams - Atromitos and Averof. During its 1970s and early 1980s prime, the provincial club was bolstered by the acquisition of six Argentine
players of Greek descent (Oscar Alvarez
, Edouardo Rigani, Juan Montez, Jose Pasternac, Alfredo Glasman and Edouardo Lisa, with De Faria as coach) and procured several finishes near the top of the National Division
table, often earning victories over Greece’s more established big city teams such as Olympiacos
. The club’s effective and spirited play during the 1970s drew flattering comparisons with that of the renowned Dutch
club Ajax Amsterdam
, and the moniker “Ajax of Epirus” has stuck with the team ever since. In 1980 former Poland national team coach Jacek Gmoch
took the helm of the Epirote club for what was a brief but reasonably successful tenure.
In the doldrums: Mid-1980s and 90s
The period following the club's aforementioned peak years generally marked a sharp decline in the club's fortunes as many of its top stars moved on or retired outright without being satisfactorily replaced. PAS languished in the lower rungs of Greek football from the mid 1980s onwards, having only managed to stubbornly climb back up to the top flight for a single season in 1990 before being immediately demoted. The club would spend the remainder of the 1990s in the lower divisions.
Bumpy ride: 2000 to present
PAS has experienced a fair degree of instability in recent years. Under the stewardship of businessman Manthos Kolempas, the club showed signs of a mild resurgence by managing to be promoted to the National Division
twice since 2000. The club was relegated, however, from the top flight after the 2000-1 season following a controversial 3-game playoff with OFI Crete
and again after the 2002-3 season following sanctions of 65 points imposed on it by the Greek football association
(EPO) after a unique and dubious decision. While there were other teams in the Superleague that owed at least 30 million euros, only PAS Giannina were relegated.
Related administrative and financial issues threatened to cause the club to be stripped of its professional status and relegated to the amateur division indefinitely. This was ultimately averted and the club's control switched over to controversial attorney Alexis Kougias, who oversaw the promotion of the team from the Tertiary Division (Gamma Ethniki) to the Second Division (Beta Ethniki). PAS finished 5th in the Second Division after the 2006-7 season and finished 4th after the 2007-8 season, coming very close to promotion and only losing out on the last match day.
In the summer of 2008 ownership of the club was passed over to Yiorgos Christovasilis, a businessman from Athens whose roots stem from the Epirus region. He brought on Guillermos Ollos as coach for the 2008-09 season.
Honors and distinctions
Over the years, PAS has competed in the National Division for a total of 15 seasons. The club has never won the National Championship or the Greek Cup
, but it has won lower division titles throughout its history and represented the Greek football league in the 1978-9 and 1993-4 Balkans Cup
tournaments. During its peak years in the National Division, the club twice finished in the 5th place position (1975-6, 1977-8 seasons) and once in the 6th place spot (1979-80 season). The most famous player to have donned the blue and white PAS jersey in recent years is defender Giourkas Seitaridis
, who later played for Panathinaikos
, FC Porto
, Dynamo Moscow
, and Atlético Madrid
as well as the triumphant Euro 2004
On January 31st, 2007, PAS clinched a spot in the Greek Cup semifinals by virtue of an extra-time goal from Evangelos Kontogoulidis before a hostile crowd in Karaiskaki Stadium
. With an aggregate score of 3-2, PAS also became the first ever lower division club to eliminate Olympiacos from the Greek Cup tournament.
- National Division
- 1975-76, 5th place: 30 games, 36 points, 15 wins, 6 draws, 9 losses, goals 40-33
- 1977-78, 5th place: 34 games, 38 points, 14 wins, 10 draws, 10 losses, goals 45-39
- 1979-80, 6th place: 34 games, 37 points, 14 wins, 9 draws, 11 losses, goals 50-44
- Second division
- 1973-74, second division champion
- 1985-86, second division champion
- 2001-02, second division champion
PAS fans harbor a deep antipathy for the "establishment" teams from Athens
, Panathinaikos, Olympiacos and AEK.
There is hostility with OFI Crete based on the events surrounding their 2001 playoff. In contrast, derby matches against nearby AO Kerkyra are competitive in the sporting sense but do not evoke the same feelings of enmity from PAS supporters.
Notable former players
Current roster 2007/08