The third and last part of the biggest interview Ivan Savvidis ever gave, has to do with PAOK and only. The way he talks about PAOK, reminds us the nearly forgotten, non-stop slump of the the Greek Football. Football still is a one of kind passion that makes, the poor the rich the grownups the youngsters, to lose their minds.
The PAOK’s shareholder talks as if he is a young boy about how he managed to sign Berbatov and reveqals the conversation he had with Frank Arnesen, who by the way he wanted since 2013. Brings into light the communication on a daily basis with his family and for the first time ever he reveals what is the exact amount of money paid for the debt PAOK had.
He analysis his dream for the new stadium of Toumba. Speaks about getting involved with basketball, about Aris, about his friend Karypides, business plans for Greece and the chance of getting involved with politics in Greece. The Greek habits he was brought up with in Russia and the name “Ioannis”.
The news that will definitely cause excitement amongst the PAOK fans about the gift-transfer of January.
Here is the third part:
Many Greek fans wonder why you believe that you can win the championship if you don’t play by the rules like the rest. Burning stores, threaten the referees fire journalists.
Do you know what I say to my older son? If you want to be a true PAOK Fan you have to go to gate $. If you want to be the owner you mustn’t let your brain to get sick. I cannot allow myself to act like a common fan and not like the Leader of the family. I belong to a type of people who prefer prevention rather than suppression. Why should you burn someone’s store as long as you have the ability to take away his whistle? Why go into crime? To scare everybody? We feel Athens to be like home to us and that’s how is always going to be. They who allow actions like that to happen will always feel outsiders. That’s the main difference of PAOK. The house of PAOK is everywhere. We are only afraid of our consciousness and the Lord Jesus Christ.
So why all these incidents, at his home, in the game against Dortmund?
When I arrived to PAOK, first thing I did was to study carefully what happened during the game against Rapid Vienna, as everything that took place looked really odd to me. I spoke to Fans that took part in the riots and I tried to find out what happened. It was instructive. A large number of the so called Rapid Fans entered the stadium without any check or control. Unfortunately PAOK didn’t realize that all that was planned and the only purpose was to get us sanctioned by UEFA. In the end we realized that A small number where actual Rapid Fans and all the rest Greek friends of the Austrian team. We couldn’t let that happen again.
What did you do to avoid it?
We knew that under Dortmund’s banner there where Aris fans. Was Aris playing that game? So what were they doing here? Unfortunately a few of them got in the stadium to cause trouble for us. And it hearts as others teams investors understand our action against violence as our weakness. For example the game against Panathinaikos in Athens.
When you agreed with Mr. Alafouzos that you will sit next to each other and the fans of both teams on the stands.
Yes. We never asked for tickets. Panathinaikos through the media said that they thought to give out 300 tickets. What could I do? To forbid the fans of the tickets, and be accused of not doing so? They could have given us 50 tickets. 50 of us it’s like a 100 of them. They gave us 300 tickets no control no security guards. They caused the trouble and we got punished. Funny things. Where was the security staff? It is so clear now but at that time no one paid attention.
What is the way to kick them out?
Didn’t you watch the game against OSFP? I said in a very understandable way that there are provocateurs. I am a man and who ever insult me I could lose control grab a chair and hit him in the head. People will say that it was my fault. Right. You provoked me to act like that. Thus there is another side of the story too. And our goal is to find the provocateurs and safeguard the team and the Fans. We ask the Fans to identify them and kick them out.
You won a credit though by your enemies in the derby against Olympiakos, about your hospitality. Regarding the chapter footballers?
That’s a different story. The quality of the footballers is a long process. There are teams that buy players costing tens of millions and they never adapt. There has to be a process stabilizing the situation. When we start to buy selected transfer targets, 90% of the team should be shaped in order for us to make it happen. When this moment come we will be able to say that we entered a different level. People criticize me for the fact that I didn’t fire everybody when I took control of PAOK. Footballers , coaching staff, managers, security. There were people asking the same for the Fans. And I would reply to them: ‘Should I shut PAOK down too”? I have a different principal. I act step by step. We are not allowed to destroy PAOK’s philosophy. We have to change first. That’s why I was certain when I told you that there isn’t a sinle PAOK fan who want fake titles or criminal based victories.
What were the criteria in choosing Frank Arnesen this summer? Was that regarding a new project in which the Director of Football has the last call?
I first thought and study Arnesen in 2013. I decided that it was too early to bring him in and I wasn’t wrong. A baby must spend nine months inside the womb. Then an infant kid teenager and so on.
How much money in total have you given to pay off the debt?
In total 22.2 million in debt. Different debts different cases others in court. When I realized that the state wanted to rip me off I said that’s enough I cannot allow this. We could have professionals, general managers and ask them what to do. It wasn’t my fault. Tsipras came along and he knew too. When the new law passed I went to the tax offices had my 11 million worth of tea and then I called in the professionals in order to move to the next phase.
When do you expect this plan to succeed winning trophies for PAOK?
Yesterday. When I move forward it doesn’t mean that I have to stop doing something. I told Tudor, you and Frank think, we are 8 points behind, find a way to cover that. I told Frank today that if he was weaker than me I wouldn’t want to hear his point of view. He is stronger than me though.
With the current situation, do you really believe that you can finish first?
Yes. Olympiakos lost points last year. It is football, everything can happen. What we can do is plan our own target and never think that we will fail it. No one ever changed the target I’ve set. We can’t stand losing anymore. Someone can defeat us, someone might be stronger than us. But the army of PAOK never loses, we cant’s stand defeat.
Can you expand on that?
What I mean by saying they won and we lost. I have a different philosophy. Against Dortmund for instance, the German team didn’t win but they left Tuba happy. And that’s because our goalkeeper helped them to be happy by taking the draw. One of their players, costs as much as our first eleven. Of course we were sad that we didn’t take the win.
Will you allow me to ask: Was Berbatov a choice made by Arnesen and Tudor or was he a personal gift to the PAOK fans?
Possibly for me and the PAOK fans. Look I always liked Berbatov and I believe that he is going to have a massive impact in making us happy. He has a “professor of football” type of behavior. Of course I will keep on making similar gestures but that doesn’t imply that I don't respect the manager and the head coach. Once Frank told me something very interesting: ‘Football is emotions and we owe to understand it”. I replied: ‘That’s correct, I have feelings. I have the right to invest on them”. Of course he replied. And I said: ‘Get me Berbatov”.
Will you bring more “Berbatovs”?
Surely. This kind of prosess will never end. I don’t steal money. I earn them along with the team. Only my children are allowed to tell me ‘ dad you spend your money foolishly “. I praise God for what am about to tell you. My wife was in England and she called my son in Rostov to tell him that Messi had some issues in Barcelona (laughing hard), then my son replied:”don’t you have something else to do’? that is our greatest victory.
Many people believed that you would take charge of the basketball team
Why is it important who is the owner. The important thing is who gives the money. We are giving money and will continue to do so.
How do you feel about Mr Karypidis whom you have the great relationship with took charge of Aris?
We are friends and partners in business. If he thinks that he wants to be involved with football it's his own personal choice and I don't care. On Sunday we play against Iraklis. That means the stadium is going to be packed and we play football for the people. I wouldn't say I'm scared but I do hesitate in front of empty grounds. It destroys me as a person. Many times I wonder why I even try. There are two sides on a coin though.
When a stadium is full like in the game against Olympiakos. I was driving my car coming back from Tuba and I was thinking I should have bought one more player. I felt like we fooled the fans who came and supported us in this way. Thus when did you see the stadium packed with people it makes you responsible. I will thank them the coming January.
Is there a chance to see you one day in the Greek political scene?
I will be honest. At this point no. i believe fat the politician American dream of any level shoulnt be talking the people through atranslator. As long as I don't have time plain Greek I'm not going to be involved with politics I was told something interesting yesterday. The ones that know the Greek language didn't receive anything. Is it time to have politicians that do not know the language? I amAgainst something like that. That's why I don't see myself into politics.
A personal question. Which Greek habits you got in your house by your parents with respect to Greece?
Everything. You will never be able yo understand us. You have to be a descendant of a refugee in order to understand how a refugee feels about tradition. The first word I said was "mana". Before I went to school I didn't speak the Russian language. There were 105 houses in my village in an altitude of 1860 meters. In this village you could find Greek names all of them there was a main matka I would understand he was the county where Panagia Soumela is. Greece was always everywhere around us. My grandfather's father was called Koulouras. At the festivals she used to bake buns and give them around that is how we where. Everything was Greek the night of the Anastasis my father would wake me up and tell me come on we have to go I would say no I want to sleep but he insisted. I could understand why we have to go why we had to go around the church for 3 times and sing Christos Anesti. I remember the elders trying to tune the radio so we can get Greece. That's Greece for me.
Is this the reason that you decided to change your name to Ioannis Recently?
Representatives of your field things that I can change names just like that? 55 years ago I was baptized Ioannis honoring my grandfather. I have a different story about that. I had a Greek Passport and the name was Ioannis the Greek government and the ministry of Foreign Affairs asked me in writing that would be in Greece's best interest for me to become the minister. In Russia. I asked them if I had to give up my Greek nationality for that matter and they said yes its for the country's best interests. That's why I'm telling you that you have to understand the love we have for our country.
It Is not possible to take down this stadium and build the new one there?
But I told you, I'm not a rebel. I in my own office in Rostov 25 years I haven’t done a renovation. When people ask me why not , I answer that I do not want to destroy the energy of it. in my office I work for 20 hours and not get tired. I have a different perception. with every part of my body I feel Tuba. If we talk about the demolition, the total collapse of Toumba, then do not talk to me. If we talk about the renovation, then it is for me. This is what I think. Here, once again I will speak about my wife, who always tells me to Toumba when the weather is not good. People are getting wet. You must do something. “For me it is easy to invest in PAOK. No one at home does not tell me why spend money for PAOK. Why did you invest so little?