|Full name||Gymnastikos Syllogos Ergotelis|
|Nickname(s)||Οι Κρητικοί (The Cretans)|
|Founded||7 August 1929|
|Owner||Gymnastics Club Ergotelis|
|2015–16||Football League Greece, withdrew (Relegation)|
|Website||Club home page|
The Gymnastics Club "Ergotelis" (Greek: Γυμναστικός Σύλλογος Εργοτέλης), also known simply as Ergotelis, is a Greek association football club, department of the multi-sport club Gymnastics Club "Ergotelis", which is based in Heraklion, Crete. The name of the team was inspired by that of the famous ancient Cretan expatriate Olympic runner Ergoteles of Himera. The club currently competes in the Gamma Ethniki, the third tier of the Greek football league system. Ergotelis is one of the two Heraklion-based clubs to have competed in the Greek Superleague, having made a total of 9 appearances during 2004–2015.
Ergotelis was established as an amateur club of Cretan footballers in 1929 by prominent Heraklion citizens, mainly refugees from Asia Minor. The club's foundation, as well as its first ever recorded game, a friendly 4–0 win against local side Leon (Greek: Λέων) held at Chandax (Greek: Χάνδαξ) stadium on August 4, 1929, was reported onto local newspaper 'Eleythera Skepsis' (Greek: Ελευθέρα Σκέψις) on Wednesday, 7 August 1929. Since its early days, Ergotelis showed the progressive ideals of its founders, being one of the first sports clubs in Greece to allow women into its sporting divisions, as well as its board of directors. The team gradually gained its own football ground on Martinengo Bastion, located on the Venetian Era walls surrounding the city's center, and would mostly play in local championships and Greece's national Second Division, after the latter was founded in the early 1960s.
Junta years, Theodorakis concert and repercussions (1966–1974)
During the Greek military junta of 1967–1974, Ergotelis was 'branded' as an anti-national organization, and its officials were accused for «deviating from the purposes for which they were elected, turning the club into an instrument servicing political, and sometimes unpatriotic objectives», after the club's board of directors allowed renowned songwriter and composer Mikis Theodorakis, a key voice against the right-wing government, to perform a concert on Martinengo stadium. After the conclusion of the 1966–1967 Beta Ethniki season, the club was forcibly relegated to amateur status through a legislation, that allowed each regional city of Greece to be represented in the country's Second national Division by a single team only. Furthermore, to add insult to injury, any local clubs remaining in the Beta Ethniki had the right to demand the transfer of any number of players from the relegated clubs, bypassing official transfer regulations. As a result, five of Ergotelis' best considered players at the time (Konstantinos Theodorakis, Dimitrios Papadopoulos, Manolis Stavroulakis, Konstantinos Zouraris and Georgios Skandalakis), were signed by local rival OFI – who remained in the national competitions. Shortly after, a court decision in favor of Ergotelis was overruled by the junta-controlled Hellenic Football Federation, which finally approved OFI's contracts with the players and threatened Ergotelis officials with eviction from their home turf in Martinengo Stadium. After members of the club's board of directors were either demoted or prosecuted, Ergotelis was practically disbanded in 1967.
Post-Junta period and the 80s sporadic breakthroughs (1974–2002)
After the junta's collapse in 1974, several attempts were made to bring the team back to Greek football reality, however most of these were met with failure. As a result, Ergotelis struggled between the lower regional and national competitions for over 30 years. Ergotelis managed not to go completely unnoticed during these years however, achieving some notable breakthroughs in the 80s, along the way to a rebirth.
During the 1982–83 season, the club won its first national title, lifting the Greek Football Amateur Cup, by defeating AO Arta 2–0 in the competition final held at the Apostolos Nikolaidis Stadium. The 1984–85 season saw the club finishing at the top of the Delta Ethniki Group 1 table to promote to the Gamma Ethniki as champions. However the most notable feat of this period came during the 1985–86 season, when Ergotelis, at the time playing in the Gamma Ethniki, managed to reach the Greek Cup quarterfinals, which, to this day, remains the best performance of the club in the competition. Being the sole representative of the Gamma Ethniki still remaining in the competition, Ergotelis consecutively eliminated Niki Volos, Alpha Ethniki side Panserraikos and Ethnikos Olympiakos Volos to reach the quarterfinals, where the club squared off against eventual title winners Panathinaikos. Though giving the "Greens" a tough match to eventually go down 2–3 in the first leg held at the Theodoros Vardinogiannis Stadium in Heraklion, Ergotelis were completely dominated in the second leg, where they lost to the eventual Greek champions with an emphatic 7–1 score at the Apostolos Nikolaidis Stadium on 9 April 1986. This feat marked the end of Ergotelis' attempts at a return during this period, as the club was relegated back to the Delta Ethniki two years later, at the end of the 1987–88 season.
Ergotelis briefly resurfaced in the mid-90s, spending two consecutive seasons in the Gamma Ethniki during 1996–98, after winning the Delta Ethniki 1995–96 Group 2 championship. It would then take another 5 years for the club to re-emerge, and this time complete a full comeback.
Rebirth and rise to top-flight (2002–2008)
In the late 90s Ergotelis' owners at the time Georgios Soultatos and Nikos Tzortzoglou devised a plan that would eventually lead to the club's resurrection. This would not only concern quality changes made to the club's roster, but also the foundation of Ergotelis' own training academies, intending to further boost the men's team with promising young talent. Within a couple of years, Ergotelis grew into a strong, competitive team that would celebrate three consecutive promotions and eventually made its debut in the Greek Superleague, thus becoming the second team to have represented Heraklion in the highest professional football league in Greece, alongside club rival OFI. This historical moment for the club was achieved by winning the promotion play-out match held at Makedonikos Stadium in Thessaloniki, against Akratitos F.C., who had finished 14th in the 2003–04 Alpha Ethniki season. However, due to lack of experience, the team failed to avoid relegation in its first season in the league, and after finishing in 15th place, returned to the Beta Ethniki once again. However, the 2005–06 Beta Ethniki season saw Ergotelis return to good form, with Greek manager Nikos Karageorgiou taking over, achieving instant promotion to the Superleague after winning the division title.
Papoutsakis era (2008–2016)
In January 2008, Ergotelis came under the ownership of Heraklion businessman Apostolos Papoutsakis. During Papoutsakis' presidency, the club rose to prestigious standards in Greek football, which eventually earned Ergotelis the 2008–09 Fair Play award, making Papoutsakis extremely popular amongst the fans of the club. Karageorgiou remained manager of the club for six seasons, in which the club saw a steady financial growth, mainly due to the transfers of promising young Greek players Dimitrios Kiliaras and Vasilios Koutsianikoulis to prestigious clubs Panionios and PAOK respectively. During these years, Ergotelis would achieve some memorable results against Greece's traditional football giants Panathinaikos and Olympiacos, including a 2–3 away competition win in the Athens Olympic Stadium against Panathinaikos on October 29, 2008 and a stunning 5–0 win against reigning champions Olympiacos in a friendly game held at the Pankritio Stadium, commemorating Ergotelis' 80th anniversary on September 6, 2009. Outside the pitch, the club's board of directors would gain praise from the media for its initiative to sign international partnerships with Dutch side FC Utrecht and State-side Philadelphia Union. Moreover, Ergotelis organized a series of social and beneficial activities, which culminated in a concert held at Pankritio Stadium on September 19, 2011, honoring Mikis Theodorakis in commemoration of the 45 years passed since the controversial concert at Martinengo Stadium in 1966.
Despite the club's gradual financial growth and status, which allowed room for signing stars such as Latvia's all-time top scorer Māris Verpakovskis and renowned former Benfica midfielder Beto, most of the six seasons under Karageorgiou management saw Ergotelis struggling to avoid relegation, along with a successive string of deliberate eliminations from the Greek Football Cup, often from clubs playing in lower divisions. The most notable achievement of this period was an 8th-place finish in the 2010–2011 season. For the 2011–2012 season, the club's board of directors decided to cut down the team's budget, a direct result of the Greek economic crisis of the late 2000s. While the season took off on a promising start, subsequent weak performances, along with rising tensions between several of the club's players and the manager, ultimately failed to keep Ergotelis in top-flight. The team was relegated in the end of the season, after a disastrous second round which saw the club win only 2 of the total 15 matches, and thus return to the Football League after finishing in 14th place. To further add to the fans' pain, club president Papoutsakis died on July 23, 2012 at the age of 60.
The next season saw Ergotelis go through a major overhaul on all fronts. Nikos Karageorgiou terminated his contract on mutual consent after six years of service, and former renowned Cypriot striker Siniša Gogić took over as manager of the team. The roster was rebuilt with youngsters from the club's training academies, as most of the club's veterans were either released, or refused to follow the team in the lower division. During mid-season, the club came to know financial instability after major shareholders announced they were stepping down. Despite these facts however, Ergotelis managed to secure a second-place finish in the 2012–13 Football League marathon procedure, thus celebrating a third promotion to the Super League. Ergotelis' third tenure in top-flight proved to be short-lived however. Despite an all-time best 7th-place finish in the 2013–2014 season, the club was once again relegated in 2015.
The next season turned out to be one of the most difficult in the club's recent history, as there were many open issues regarding which competition the club would be participating in at the start of the season. Open legal issues with Superleague clubs Kerkyra and Veria left the relegation status of Ergotelis ambiguous, as club officials made a final effort for the club to remain in top-flight by taking both cases in court. After both cases resolved, and left Ergotelis relegated, there was much speculation on whether the club would follow in the footsteps of clubs such as AEK Athens, Larissa and local rival OFI, who chose to dissolve and voluntarily play in the Gamma Ethniki in an attempt to start anew and clear their financial debts. Despite the unebarable financial obligations tied to the decision to keep playing in the Football League, Ergotelis' major shareholder and son of the late Apostolos Papoutsakis Dimitrios, took the decision to keep the club in professional level and attempt a fourth promotion to the Superleague, gathering past board members and financiers under one banner. The club hired Bosnian manager Jasminko Velić and began preparations for the Football League almost a month after the season was officially declared started. Despite high hopes however, the club soon fell behind in the League table, while its financial status worsened. As players started filing claims against the club in the winter transfer window of 2016, thus releasing themselves of their contracts due to unpaid wages, Papoutsakis announced his resignation as club president. The remaining board members along with a group of 17 players who refused to let the team die, managed to keep the club running until 19 January 2016, when club officials finally decided to withdraw the team from the competition. After 14 consecutive years playing in professional divisions, Ergotelis was once again relegated to amateur status.
After its withdrawal from professional competitions, the football department of Ergotelis reinstated its amateur status, thus merging with the parent multi-sport club G.S. Ergotelis. The latter's officials decided that the Football Club should thus be dissolved and enter into liquidation, a process that would allow Ergotelis to compete in amateur competitions under new leadership, free of the financial obligations of the previous administration. The decision was fiercely rivaled by major shareholder Papoutsakis, who instead opted for liquidation without dismantling the company, in operation under the provisions of the bankruptcy code. After the G.S. Ergotelis administration reached out on the matter to the Deputy Minister for Sport Stavros Kontonis, joined by fellow Football League withdrawn competitors Olympiakos Volou, elections were held in April 2016 appointing Georgios Vrentzos as the new president of G.S. Ergotelis, and head of the football department. After the Hellenic Football Federation, the Greek Professional Sports Commission and the Greek Ministry of Development all ruled in favor of G.S. Ergotelis' case and reassured its officials that the club would compete in the Gamma Ethniki, the third tier of the Greek football league system, the club's new administration was free to open up winding-up proceedings and appoint liquidators, while at the same time rebuilding the football department and attempt a swift return to professional competitions.
Crest and colours
Ergotelis' emblem depicts a football player wearing the club's traditional colours (yellow and black), surrounded by a laurel wreath, similar to the ones awarded to the ancient Olympic Games victors. The football player, possibly a reference to Ergotelis' original establishment as a football club, honours the athlete in general, while the Olympic crown is a reference to the Olympic champion Ergoteles of Himera, whom the club is named after. Since the early 2000s, the club's logo is framed within a yellow shield. During the 2006–07 season and up until the 2013–14 season, Ergotelis' crest included its major sponsor's title "DIETHNIS ENOSIS". (Greek: «ΔΙΕΘΝΗΣ ΕΝΩΣΙΣ»). In 2009, the club issued an anniversary logo, which used a slightly darker palette and featured a smaller version of the laurel wreath and athlete, framed within a golden 80, part of the phrase "80 ΧΡΟΝΙΑ 1929–2009" (English: "80 YEARS 1929–2009"). Since the 2013–14 season, the club's crest simply reads "PAE Ergotelis".
80th Anniversary Logo
As previously mentioned, the team's jersey colours are yellow and black. Early kits resembled the kit depicted in the club's crest, with black shorts and a yellow shirt, while black stripes and variations thereof were introduced in later years. Ergotelis' kits during the club's first seasons in the Super League were supplied by French company Le Coq Sportif. Afterwards, the team signed a contract with Italian company Lotto, which resulted in several iconic kits that in some cases have been re-used throughout multiple seasons. Ergotelis' partnership with Lotto was interrupted during the 2011–12 season in which the club wore kits produced by Macron. In 2013, Ergotelis started a two-year partnership deal with fellow Italian company Eye Sportwear, which designed and produced two custom kits, one for each of the 2013–14 and 2014–15 seasons, both patented by Ergotelis.
Manufacturers and shirt sponsors
|Period||Kit manufacturer||Shirt sponsor|
|2004–2005||Le Coq Sportif||Almaco Aluminium|
|2006–2007||Le Coq Sportif||OPAP|
- Current sponsorships
- Great Shirt Sponsor: TBA
- Official Sport Clothing Manufacturer: Lotto
- Official Sponsor: TBA
Stadiums and facilities
Ergotelis' traditional home ground is the Martinengo Stadium, also known as "Ergotelis Stadium" or simply "Martinengo", located on the Venetian-era wall surrounding the city of Heraklion. Built in 1946, Martinengo Stadium has been used as the home ground of multiple Heraklion amateur football clubs, and currently hosts Ergotelis' football academies, the largest training academies center on the island, and one of the largest training centers in Greece. The stadium has been used by Ergotelis during the club's tenure in lower amateur and regional competitions until the club's promotion to the Alpha Ethniki in 2004, and has also been the stage of a controversial Mikis Theodorakis concert on 6 August 1966, which many hold as the foremost reason for Ergotelis' eventual disbandment by the ruling military junta in 1967.
As Martinengo Stadium was not fit for use in Alpha Ethniki matches, Ergotelis' home ground was relocated to the newly-built Pankritio Stadium in 2004, with local rival OFI's neighboring Theodoros Vardinogiannis Stadium being declared the club's alternate home ground. Ergotelis set the Pankritio Stadium's attendance record on 20 February 2005, in a 2−1 Superleague victory over reigning champions Olympiacos with 27,950 tickets being sold. Over the years however, attendances dropped significantly, often giving the impression that the club played in an empty stadium.
Rivalry with OFI
The two Superleague clubs based in Heraklion, Ergotelis and OFI, maintain a rivalry that can be traced back to socio-political roots. Characteristic of this animosity, the first ever game between the two teams, a friendly match in 1929, ended after 35 minutes. Ergotelis were ahead by 1–0, when the game had to be abandoned after violence between the players broke out.
During the Greek military junta of 1967–1974 a government legislation determined that every regional Greek city should be represented in professional divisions by a single football team. At that time, both OFI and Ergotelis used to play in the Second National division, and at the end of the 1966–1967 season, had finished in 3rd and 10th place respectively. Despite both clubs having secured their place in next year's edition of the tournament, Ergotelis was relegated to amateur status by law. Furthermore, the teams remaining in the second division were granted the rights to sign any number of players from the relegated clubs, and thus OFI signed contracts with 5 of Ergotelis' best considered players at the time. Ergotelis' side claimed their relegation to be retaliation for allowing renowned left-liberal songwriter and composer Mikis Theodorakis to perform a concert in Martinengo stadium, giving political dimensions to the already strained relations between the two clubs. In the years to come Ergotelis languished in the lower leagues, while OFI prospered. These facts have led to various controversies among the fans of the two clubs, especially since Ergotelis' come back, at the early 00's.
In recent years, both sides have shown good will in maintaining this rivalry on the pitch only. Furthermore, OFI fans celebrated Ergotelis' promotion and attended home games during the club's first season in the Superleague. Ergotelis on the other hand, loaned their longtime scoring legend Patrick Ogunsoto to a financially weakened Beta Ethniki side OFI in 2010 for no fee, as an attempt to assist their prestigious rival in their struggle to once again return to the Super League.
Titles & honours
- Football League (Beta Ethniki)
- Winners (1): 2005–06
- Delta Ethniki
- Winners (2): 1984–85, 1995–96
- FCA Winners' Championship
- Winners (1): 1970
- Amateur Cup
- Winners (1): 1982–83
- Heraklion FCA Championship
- Winners (5): 1952–53, 1967–68, 1969–70, 1974–75, 1976–77
- Heraklion FCA Cup
- Winners (6): 1976–77, 1980–81, 1981–82, 1982–83, 1984–85, 1995–96
League top scorers
Most league appearances
Players indicated in bold currently active with the club.
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Young Ergotelis Squad
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
|Ownership||Gymnastics Club Ergotelis|
|President and CEO||Georgios Vrentzos|
|Vice President||Georgios Grismpolakis|
|Vice Secretary||Spiridon Dandaris|
|Vice Treasurer||Spiridon Vrentzos|
|Football Director||Georgios Vrentzos|
|Football Academies Director||Michalis Epitropakis|
|Board Member||Eleftherios Karatarakis|
|Board Member||Georgios Soultatos|
|Board Member||Charilaos Filipakis|
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