Israeli clubs worry over future as backers go

Last Updated: Tuesday, March 9, 2010 - 09:19

Jerusalem: Three of Israel`s best-known soccer clubs face an uncertain future after learning that they will lose their financial backers.

Alona Barkat of Hapoel Beersheba and Maccabi Netanya`s Daniel Jammer both said unruly behaviour by some fans was the final straw and announced last week that they would stop funding the two mid-table Premier League clubs at the end of the season.

Beersheba and Netanya, like Beitar Jerusalem -- once Israel`s richest club -- face starting next season without a major financial backer.

Beitar`s owner, Russian-born billionaire Arkady Gaydamak, is wanted on money-laundering charges and has not been seen in Israel for more than a year.

Barkat pulled the plug on Beersheba after angry fans forced the car of coach Guy Azuri off the road following a disappointing 2-2 draw against bottom side Ahi Nazareth.

Israeli police confirmed the incident. "An individual was tracked down after (Azuri) reported his car registration. He has been questioned and police are preparing to charge him," police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.
Azuri, clearly shaken, quit the following morning and Barkat, the only female boss of a top-flight club, made her announcement a day later.

"I have come to the conclusion that I cannot continue like this. The incident that led to Guy Azuri`s resignation was a red line for me...this cannot happen when I am in charge," Barkat told a news conference.

Bureau Report

First Published: Tuesday, March 9, 2010 - 09:19

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