Greece II Division

Greece – ranked 17th. Perhaps this was the season Greek football declared its ambition to join the best of Europe: Olympiakos made the most-expensive transfer in the world. So far, Maradona was the record holder – Napoli paid 11.2 million dollars to Barcelona to obtain him. But Olympiakos paid 12.5 million dollars to Eintracht (Frankfurt) for Lajos Detari and the Hungarian topped Maradona as the most expensive in football history. The Greeks were buying more players and hired more coaches from abroad than ever, thus building stronger teams. The highly respected Polish coach Jacek Gmoch set a record too: he was just hired to coach Olympiakos, thus becoming the first foreigner to coach all of the big 3 of Greek football – Panathinaikos, AEK, and Olympiakos. Of course, Gmoch had a long coaching history in Greece and just won the 1987-88 title with Larissa. Meantime AEK hired Dusan Bajevic, who was their star player a decade ago and now was rapidly rising coach. Panathinaikos chose Swedish coach, the list of foreign coaches was long. Classier teams fueled further ambitions and the top league was going to be increased to 18 teams for the next season, so rules for the current championship must be noted: there was no direct relegation from First Division this year. Instead, the last 3 teams were goinhg to promotion/relegation tournament. The top 3 in the Second Division were directly promoted and the next 3 plus the last 3 in First Division made a promotion/relegation mini-league, the top 2 in the final standing going to play in the top league next season. Similar arrangement was made for completion of the Second Division between the last 3 and Third Division teams. Greece still used traditional point system: 2 points for a win, 1 point for a tie. No major scandals were recorded this season – rather, an old one was recalled with the retirement of Juan Ramon Rocha of Panathinaikos. Back in 1980 he was bought from Boca Juniors, but he was introduced in Greece with Greek name – Boublis – and documents. The trick was done many times before, but this time did not work – a big scandal erupted because of the fake documents, Rocha almost ended in jail and Panathinaikos almost expelled to Second Division. But that was only the first round… in the second old ways prevailed: as usual, ‘allegations’ were dismissed by honest authorities and everybody involved was acquitted. Rocha shined on the field, became a Greek citizen, this time legally, and if not for his 3 games for the national team of Argentina between 1973-77, most likely would have been playing for the Greek national team. He became one of the best stars of Greek football in the 1980s and now, 35-years old, stepped down. Ugly beginning, but highly respected finish.
Second Division. 18 teams, the top 3 directly promoted, the next 3 – going to promotion/relegation play-offs, the last 3 – going to promotion/relegation play-offs. Because of the temporary no-direct-relegation rule, actually only 1 teams went down this season:
Kavala was last this season with 23 points, but actually lost its place in the promotion/relegation tournament.
The other 2 outsiders – Kallithea, 17th with 24 points, and Panachaiki, 16th with 32 points – benefited by the new rule – they performed well in the promotion/relegation tournament and kept their places in the Second Division: this was quite important for the next season, when Panachaiki went from rags to riches, but at the moment they were only lucky to avoid sinking to Third Division.
Up the table – mostly according to current form and little to brag about.
Athinaikos finished 11th with 33 points – that is, rather typical season for them. A for many other Second Division members.
Naoussa was 10th with 33 points, ahead of Athinaikos on better goal-difference. And like Athinaikos, there was nothing in Naoussa’s performance to suggest they would go up soon.
The top 6 teams were the important part of the season: Veria took 6th place with 36 points, Korinthos was 5th also with 36 points, and
PAS Giannina – 4th with 38 points. These teams went to the promotion/relegation tournament, having chance to move up.
Ionikos finished 3rd with 40 points and they were very happy indeed, for they earned promotion to top flight.
Panserraikos took 2nd place with 41 points and also was promoted – like Ionikos, they were only returning to top flight, where they played before.
The winners were different story – Xanthi had excellent season and won the championship with 44 points: 17 wins, 10 ties, 7 losses, 60-33 goal-difference. Not a dominant winner, but Xanthi never won anything before and never played First Division football – thus, this was the best ever season of the club, their first promotion and naturally a great joy for club and fans. Xanthi was going to debut in the First Division and good luck to them!
In the promotion/relegation tournament no Second Division team succeeded.
PAS Giannina was the best of the Second Division teams there – they finished 3rd and were unable to return to top flight.
Korinthos ended 4th, Diagoras – 5th and were relegated from First Division, Veria – 6th. Top league teams won the tournament: Apollon Kalamarias (Thessaloniki) finished 2nd with 7 points and Ethnikos (Piraeus) was really superior: they won every match they played and ended 1st with 10 points. Thus, Apollon Kalamarias and Ethnikos preserved their First Division places.