PAOK Thessaloniki

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VIDEO: PAOK wins first Greek title in 34 years, fans celebrate accordingly

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THESSALONIKI, Greece (AP) PAOK won the Greek league with a round to spare after beating Levadiakos 5-0.

Yevhen Shakhv scored twice for the hosts, along with goals from Diego Biseswar, Fernando Varela and Karol Swiderski.

With one round left, PAOK is five points ahead of second-place Olympiakos.

This is the third league championship for PAOK, after 1976 and 1985 titles.

A huge celebration at the city’s waterfront was planned later Sunday.

PAOK owner banned, team docked points for violence

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ATHENS, Greece (AP) The owner of Greek soccer club PAOK Thessaloniki was banned for three years on Thursday for his part in violence during a match against AEK Athens, including running onto the field with a holstered pistol on his hip.

PAOK owner Ivan Savvidis, a powerful Russian-Greek businessman, was also fined 100,000 euros ($123,000) by the Greek sports court.

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The club itself was docked three points for violence that interrupted recent matches against Olympiakos and AEK – incidents that triggered a two-week suspension of the league.

The ruling gives AEK a seven-point advantage over Olympiakos and sees PAOK drop to third place with five matches remaining – unless the decision is overturned on appeal.

Olympiakos has dominated the league for two decades, but AEK is now favored to win for the first time in 24 years.

In fallout from the incident, FIFA said on Thursday a panel it appointed last year to oversee the troubled national soccer federation recommended the federation be suspended immediately.

This season has been roiled by ongoing allegations of corruption and political interference. The government this week ended a 15-day suspension of the league saying it received a commitment from clubs to back reforms aimed at curbing violence.

However, in its letter revealed on Thursday, the FIFA committee said: “Regretfully … the monitoring committee is of the opinion that the current situation of Greek football with its repeated episodes of violence does not allow the (federation) to guarantee a smooth running of national competitions.

“The monitoring committee unanimously recommends an immediate suspension of the (federation) from FIFA membership.”

The federation said FIFA representatives attended a meeting of its executive board in Athens to brief them on their findings.

Federation chief Evangelos Grammenos said he was determined to hold clubs to their pledge to reform.

“The changes will take time,” Grammenos said.

Dunbar contributed from Geneva.

Greek police seek gun-toting soccer club owner

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ATHENS, Greece (AP) __ Greek police are seeking the gun-toting owner of PAOK Thessaloniki and four others after they marched onto the soccer field following a disputed goal at the end of a league match.

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PAOK owner Ivan Savvidis walked onto the field accompanied by bodyguards, and appeared to be carrying a pistol in a holster around his waist. The Sunday match in the northern city of Thessaloniki between PAOK and AEK Athens was eventually abandoned after the disputed 90th-minute goal, which would have put host PAOK ahead 1-0.

Police say they are investigating Savvidis, who holds a gun license, for illegal entry onto the field and for possession of an object that could cause harm in a sporting venue.

Ex-Manchester United striker Berbatov spurned Aston Villa for Greek club

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34-year-old striker Dimitar Berbatov, a free agent after being released from his Monaco contract this summer, has signed for Greek club PAOK Thessaloniki.

Multiple reports across England suggested that Aston Villa was heavily pursuing the former Manchester United, Tottenham, and Fulham striker, even flying him into Birmingham on Deadline Day and sending former Villa player and Bulgarian international Stylian Petrov to pick him up, but the two parties never came close to agreeing to personal terms.

Instead, Berbatov chose a club that has finished top three in the Greek top flight four times in the past six seasons, but has not won a league title since 1985. PAOK did not release details of the contract, but according to Transfermarkt, Berbatov signed a one-year contract.

Berbatov has proven to be productive despite his age, scoring seven times in 26 Ligue 1 appearances last season with Monaco, although he faded down the stretch, scoring just twice after Christmas in 14 appearances, managing just three full 90 minutes over that span.

PAOK will unveil Berbatov to Toumba Stadium on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Aston Villa had a very quiet Deadline Day, signing just a pair of central defenders in Jolean Lescott and Liverpool loanee Tiago Ilori. The club did most of its business prior to the final day of the window, nabbing French forward Jordan Ayew and Barcelona winger Adama Traore among others.