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Greek clubs end lock-out, league to start

By Graham Wood

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece's elite basketball league will begin this weekend after a one-week lock-out was ended by the clubs, league organizers (ESAKE) said on Tuesday.

The A1 League was postponed on October 3 after the clubs failed to reach agreement on a television rights deal, but have now decided to settle for the initial offer from state broadcaster ERT.

"The board of ESAKE, having as its objective the smooth functioning of the institution of the championship, decided to open the A1 League 2012-13 stating on Saturday 13/10/2012," said ESAKE in a statement.

"This decision does not affect our aim to continue to strive for the rightful rewards for professional basketball with regard to television rights."

The postponement further highlighted the continuous effects of the economic crisis on sport in the country, with 12 of the 14 teams in the league initially rejecting the offer of 1.3 million euros ($1.68 million) from ERT, which represented a 40 percent reduction from last season's deal.

According to reports, clubs were asking for around 2 million euros but have decided to settle on the initial offer, although negotiations are ongoing regarding allocating extra advertising space.

Olympiakos Piraeus and Panathinaikos have separate television deals worth a reported 1.2 million euros per season each.

Matches will tip-off this Saturday with champions Olympiakos beginning the defence of their crown against PAOK Thessaloniki. Panathinaikos travel north to face Aris Thessaloniki in the pick of the first round of games.

(Reporting by Graham Wood, editing by Ed Osmond)

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