Israeli Soccer teams began preparations for the upcoming 2011-2012 season the past few weeks and it seems there is major upheaval across the board for the owners, players and fans.
 
And that being said, didn’t last season just end?
 
Why is there only a three week off season break? Can someone explain that to me? If you look at the four major North American Sports we see huge off-season breaks, anywhere between 3-6 months!
 
Israel Soccer League three weeks. Boy now that’s generous!
 
But that’s not the only thing that I find puzzling going into the new season.
 
The Israel Football Association made a rule change that should never have been in the first place. “The Kizuz," or “Offset” of points.
 
Over the past two seasons each team plays home and away with every other team in the league of 15 clubs. Then the league is split up into playoffs with “The Kizuz” and halving of everyone’s points to try and make the last few weeks as interesting as possible.
 
Think about that. You play 30 weeks have a twelve point lead and then suddenly you get cut to six points for the last five or so games. Does this make any sense?
 
Can you imagine if the New York Yankees head into Boston with two weeks to go and up by 6 games, then suddenly the lead shrinks to 3? I do not think this would fly to well.
 
At least the brain trust of the IFA made a good decision by eliminating this obscene rule.
 
Other happenings include many teams with ownership issues.
 
Beitar Jerusalem, currently owned by Arkady Gaydamak, is not putting in the necessary funding to keep the team competitive. The club is desperately seeking a new owner in order to go forward with their pre-season plans. Not only that, Beitar’s coach, Roni Levy picked up and left when an offer he could not refuse showed up from Bucharest, Romania.
 
Or how about Bnei Yehuda. Another team ownership up in the air, but at least they have a good up and coming coach in Yossi Abuksis who was with…
 
…Hapoel Tel-Aviv until the new/old owner Eli Tabib decided that he was going to teach Abuksis a lesson in negotiating and hired, well, you guessed it, Bnei Yehuda’s and former Israel National Team coach Dror Kashtan. Who by the way is also Hapoel Tel Aviv’s new/old coach.
 
Maccabi Tel Aviv player Maor Bozaglo has a media darling of a father Yaakov, who always says something that gets his son in hot water. And so, the current owner of Maccabi, Mitch Goldhar of Canada suspended Bozaglo junior and has said that he will not be in the team’s plans this year, which by doing so will also send away Bozaglo senior.
 
And by the way, did I mention that Maccabi Tel Aviv, Hapoel Tel Aviv and Bnei Yehuda all have games coming up in order to qualify for the Europa League, Europe’s second rank tournament behind the Champions League. Where…
 
Maccabi Haifa will be competing and attempting to move into the group stages as they did two years.  One good thing with Haifa is the absolute stability of ownership until Yaakov Shachar and the professionalism that surrounds the club. One which this blog will focus on later in the summer.
 
Maccabi Netanya’s owner Daniel Jammer has decided to move on and leave the team he had invested in for a number of years. Netanya has produced a number of quality players such as Israeli International Almog Cohen and Itay Schecter. This is another blow to stability to the league.
 
And last but certainly not least Hapoel Petach Tikva. Their owners have most recently been seen handcuffed in jail for match fixing! Can it get any better!
 
Well, yes it can! The Chairman of the IFA Avi Luzon as well as referees are also now being investigated in this case.
 
I was in a Tel Aviv taxi yesterday and the conversation I had with the driver centered around the Israel Soccer League. As he put it, the off season is more interesting the games in season. He waits every year for these months to sit back, relax and watch all of the controversy unfold.
 
So if this is your first exposure to Israeli Soccer, you get the picture. A league with lots of turmoil and drama on and off the field.
 
So pick a team or city and follow them this year. You’ll enjoy it, learn about Israeli sports franchises and have fun along the way.
 
As they say, there is never a dull moment.
 
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