Anthony Lee of Panionios wrote a piece on Sportando about his situation with the Greek team.
“I have put off writing this, however, with the advice from counsel I am utilizing the power of social media to potentially save other players and their families from experiencing the stress and agony my wife and I went through during our time with Panonios BC. Let’s fast forward to January 16th. I had been out of practices and games for 6 days because of mild tendinitis in my Achilles.
I received a call from the secretary to come to the office. Initially, I thought it would be to collect my salary, which they were already a month and a half late paying, but turns out it was to sign a termination contract OUT OF THE BLUE! They gave me the option that if their current centre leaves (his contract was up in February) that they will resign me because I would be healthy by then (my tendinitis was going to be gone in 2-3 weeks with therapy). If not, they will part ways with me and I will be given my salary that they owed me already (the month and a half they were late on) plus one month of extra compensation since they decided to terminate my “guaranteed” contract. But for now, they supposedly needed me to sign the termination immediately to free up a spot for a new player for the game coming up in two days because they were already maxed out on foreign players and knew I couldn’t play with my Achilles problem and wanted 6 foreign players with the next few games being important ones. This owed amount was signed on and to be paid to me by Tuesday January 21st. Thursday night (the very same day I was told to I needed to sign a termination contract) I receive a text from the GM. He tells me my wife and I have to leave our apartment by that Saturday.
So you terminate me, tell me I’ll have my money on Tuesday, but want my wife and I to pack up everything and be out in 24 hours? They wanted us to go back to the dump hotel they stuffed us in there the first month we arrived (They put all of us players in there for a month or more when we first arrived because it’s free for them and they wanted to prolong having to pay for apartments as long as possible). We know what happens when they send you there due to what they did to another player they released. They kept it in there because they don’t have to pay for this hotel (some sort of favor given to the club) and then have no urgency to pay you your money because for them it’s free and they know eventually you’ll give in and leave without your money. So we agreed to leave the apartment once we received our money on Tuesday to ensure we got it before our depart.
Monday rolls around, and our landlord informs us the club has cut the contract for the apartment and we must leave (which we later found out she lied to us, most likely directed by Panonios. Because a few days later another player moved into our same place). So now we are left out on our own (staying at our good friends) because we refuse to be stuffed into that disgusting hotel for another month (or longer) or until we break, leave on our own, and likely never see a penny of what’s owed to me. Just when we thought they couldn’t be any more heartless, the GM starts pressing and “warning” me to give back the car immediately before he has even given Me a dollar of the money he is owed. So not only do they want to stuff my wife and I into this dumpy hotel, but they want to take the car away too. Not sure how my wife and I are supposed to get around to doing what we need to do, such as groceries, go to therapy I was entitled to, while we wait for my money owed to me.
At this point we couldn’t even contact the president to see when and if our money was coming because he was ignoring my messages and dozens of calls from agent. They even went as far as telling me that because we didn’t leave from the apartment immediately they don’t want to pay me on Tuesday anymore, even though that’s what we signed on. This was all just code for “we don’t have the money we signed upon so we’re going to try and bully you to leave, using every tactic we can. Out of sight, out of mind (because we’re out of money)”. Sidenote: they also wouldn’t book my flight home either, even though it’s clearly in my contract. So not only do you release me for no reason, but you expect him me to take care of my own flight home. I’m not sure where the professionalism is here, but I can tell you it doesn’t exist anywhere within this “club”. So here we are today, it’s the middle of March and surprise surprise no money. Like many of the other players.
I have even tried generously settling with them to receive PART of what is owed, giving them a cut from the compensation they signed on in the termination contract, and they still wouldn’t agree. Which leads us to the conclusion that they had no intention of paying a dollar, and likely just released me to get a financial break on part of my salary while scheming how they can scam the rest of the players at the same time. We just happened to be the beginning of their little plan on how to steal money from their own players because as you can see many have similar stories after us. Modern day slavery is what this is.
I have given forth my absolute best to this club (on and off the court) and been the utmost professional in all aspects, but they chose to treat my wife and I otherwise. We were actively doing things in the community, my wife and I, and willingly tagging Panionios’ name along as we did just to do them a favor. Not saying this for a praise whatsoever, but just to make a point that these people are completely gutless people just in the business of trying to put more money in their own pockets at the expense of us players. They’re messing with our livelihood and those that we love. We come in and work hard, being true professionals, make tons of sacrifices trying to make a life for our families.
Again, I do not write this for anything other than to serve as a WARNING about Panonios BC for other players and their families.
We also appreciate the numerous warnings we received before coming to Panonios. We heard them but unfortunately still decided to trust and have good faith that the club would turn around and have some sort of pride, dignity and morals. A true embarrassment and pity for being one of the most historical clubs in Greece. Let this serve as one more of those warnings.
This message is public, and I encourage you to share with others so that players and families may potentially be saved from signing with this club. Thank you for taking the time to read this and share, you could potentially be sparing someone else and their families from all of this.