Foreign footballers scramble to revise Greek contracts

Foreign football players based in Greece's top division are making contingency plans in the event of a Greek exit from the eurozone which would significantly devalue their lucrative contracts with the country's top clubs.

Greece's prime minister Alexis Tsipras has ordered a make-or-break referendum on bailout terms offered by the country's creditors for Sunday, with top EU officials saying that a 'No' vote would signal the exit of Greece from the currency bloc.

Now, agents of the country's top foreign players at clubs, such as champions Olympiakos and runners-up Panathinaikos, are attempting to find solutions to the worst-case scenario that a new Greek currency would see their binding contracts slashed in value.

The agent of a foreign Greek Super League player, speaking on condition of anonymity, says that he and his client are already in discussions with the player's club about different solutions to a potential Grexit.

"We are trying to find solutions and speak about scenarios," the agent says. "We have the best lawyers in sport law but this kind of scenario, you cannot put it inside a contract. It's not possible because this has never happened before."

"I will try to avoid moving players to Greece if I'm honest, to avoid any further problems," he adds.

Paschalis Tountouris, founder of Pro Sport Europe and representative of two 22-year-old Nigerian footballers playing in Greece, Panathinaikos midfielder Abdul Ajagun and Olympiacos striker Michael Olaitan, says that the players who are renegotiating their contracts are attempting to ensure that they are paid in euros regardless of a move to a new currency.

"It's happening with players that are currently negotiating new contracts or coming to Greece," he explains. Tountouris says that players negotiating new contracts with clubs before the weekend's turmoil have likely had to extend and alter their talks to include a provision which protects their contract's value in euros. "There are probably one or two cases of players who were negotiating last week and are still negotiating to make sure that they are paid in euros."

Tountouris warns that a potential Grexit will not be an issue for his players, who he says are talented enough to secure a move elsewhere in Europe, but it will for those who remain in the country. He reveals that he and others already had provisions within players' contracts in preparation for such an eventuality.

"It was quite easy to see where the situation was going so the majority of people already took measures," he adds. "Let's assume that the currency changes, the problem will be that the clubs will not be able to afford contracts of the same value. In theory they will lose money."

According to sports daily Goal News, a number of Greek Super League clubs have been contacted by the agents of foreign players requesting that a clause be installed in their contracts which promises that: "If a change in the currency of the country occurs, then the players would be paid in the currency (Euro) previously agreed upon".

Michael Pieri, Greek football expert and writer for London-based Greek newspaper Eleftheria, says that any sensible agent would be trying to ensure his client's interests will be looked after ahead of any major events within the eurozone.

"The good agents will always look after themselves and their clients in the best way. If they can see that there will be a possible negative from the Greek exit from the eurozone, they are going to put things in place," he says.

"The clubs would be resistant to that but, ultimately, the players have got the power in the world game and if they are good enough, they will just go somewhere else. Who will suffer ultimately? The Greek game and the consumer, the fan."

The potential Grexit is not the only controversy that has been affecting Greek football. The owner of Greek champions Olympiakos, Vangelis Marinakis, was banned from football over allegations that he is involved in a criminal organisation, aiding blackmail, extortion and bribery.

Marinakis has been forced to quit as the club's president while rival teams PAOK and Panathinaikos are to lodge complaints over Olympiakos's participation in European football next season.

Despite Tsipras's call for a referendum, Athens has requested a new bailout deal from its creditors on the same day that their current bailout agreement expires and they missed a €1.6bn bailout repayment to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The new proposal asks for a two-year €29.1bn aid agreement from eurozone countries, which is set to be discussed tonight at an emergency conference call of the Eurogroup finance ministers.