ATHENS (Reuters) - OFI Crete president Nikos Machlas labelled the Super League as a “wretched championship” after the crisis-hit club were forced to withdraw from Greece’s top flight on Saturday because of mounting debts.
OFI have repeatedly broken league rules since the start of the season by failing to pay players and the situation forced former Italian coach Gennaro Gattuso to quit in January.
“The masks have slipped off... OFI is the easy victim for other clubs to stay up comfortably,” former Ajax and Greece striker Machlas told reporters.
“We have seen the Hellenic Football Federation (EPO) decide against ... us to finish the championship with a bit of decency.
“We may now withdraw on our own free will. The OFI family will make its decisions by itself.
“We can escape the rot of soccer to become once again the team that everyone enjoys… it’s a shame that the team is leaving the league, but on the other hand it is with satisfaction that we see the team leave this wretched championship,” added Machlas, whose club were languishing at the bottom of the standings.
OFI’s withdrawal leaves Greece’s top flight with 16 teams, as cash-strapped Niki Volou were relegated for financial reasons by the league’s disciplinary committee in January.
As a result of OFI and Niki Volou’s demotion, only two more teams will be relegated from the Super League this season.
OFI were punished several times this season for failing to fulfil their financial commitments, which included a 10-point deduction in January for owing money to past and present players and staff.
After cutting his ties with the club, Italian World Cup winner Gattuso said that he gave 30,000 euros ($33,900) to some of his players in December, a few of whom had not been paid for a year.
Editing by Pritha Sarkar