A new era has dawned on Betar Jerusalem.
After six years, embattled owner
Arkadi Gaydamak is on his way out, having agreed to sell the club to American
businessmen Dan Adler and Adam Levin on Thursday.
Adler and Levin first
showed interest in buying the club more than a month ago, but insisted that
their names would remain secret, in the interest of moving negotiations
Betar chairman Itzik Kornfein, who had been put in charge of
finding a new owner for the club by Gaydamak, flew out to London earlier this
week to meet Adler and Levin and put the finishing touches to the
Betar’s new owners are not expected to transfer a single shekel to
Gaydamak, but they will pay his creditors an estimated $400,000 they are owed by
Adler and Levin will also need to fork out around NIS 10
million to balance Betar’s budget for the upcoming season, without taking into
account the extra money they will need to spend if they intend on significantly
strengthening the side.
“Adler and Levin are coming to invest in the team
and they are coming for a long time,” Kornfein said upon his arrival at Ben
Gurion Airport on Thursday. “These are good people who are going to give of
themselves for the good of the club. They understand the potential of Betar and
its greatest asset – the fans.”
Kornfein, who is set to remain in his
position as chairman, had threatened earlier this week that Betar would have to
go into liquidation if it failed to find more income sources immediately, with
Gaydamak refusing to funnel any more funds into the club.
to Adler and Levin, Betar avoided the nightmare scenario, and its fans can now
dream of a bright future.
“Levin and Adler have stressed that they see
Betar as a brand through which they can promote Israel’s and Jerusalem’s image
throughout the world,” a Betar press release read. “As Zionist Jews, they have
decided to invest whatever it takes so that Betar will return to its status as a
leading team in Israeli soccer.
“Their investment in Betar is a long-term
one and they don’t consider it a business investment.”
Adler is the
founder and principal of Media Eagles, which provides high-level strategic
thinking to a wide range of Hollywood and global clients.
He started off
as a trainee in Creative Artists Agency’s mailroom in 1986 before helping build
CAA’s early initiatives in the new media field.
He moved on to spend
several years as a VP of Creative Development at Walt Disney Imagineering before
Earlier this year, he was a Democratic candidate in the
special election for Representative of California’s 36th Congressional District,
but only received 0.5 percent of the vote.
Adler is involved in a wide
range of charitable and political causes, serving on the boards of directors of
Ryman Arts, the Israel Policy Forum, and the Aleph Society, as well as being a
member of the American Jewish Committee’s National Board of
Levin is the CEO of Criterion Capital Partners, a global
Internet company best known for owning the social network Bebo, having bought it
from AOL for a reported $10 million last year.
Thursday’s news brings an
end to six extremely tumultuous years under Gaydamak.
In August 2005,
Gaydamak was hailed as a savior after buying Betar and promising to turn it into
the top club in the country.
He put his money where his mouth was, and
with a budget more than double and sometimes even three times that of its
closest rivals, Betar soon dominated the Premier League.
coaches Luis Fernandez and Ossie Ardiles disappointed, the unheralded Yossi
Mizrahi led the club to its first championship under Gaydamak in
He was sacked not long after in typical Gaydamak style however,
and Itzhak Schum led the side to the league and cup double in
However, he too didn’t last long and was fired following the
team’s failure to reach the Champions League group stage in
Reuven Atar guided the side to the cup at the end of the season,
but Betar’s financial situation changed dramatically ahead of the following
campaign, with Gaydamak deciding to stop funding the club and putting Kornfein
in charge of all matters.
Guma Aguiar saved Betar from bankruptcy in the
summer of 2009 by giving the club $4 million, but he had to be admitted to the
Abarbanel Psychiatric Hospital a few months later after his mental health
deteriorated, leaving Kornfein to search for help elsewhere.
came to an end on Thursday, with Adler and Levin buying the club and announcing
that they are here to stay.
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