Hapoel Tel Aviv midfielder Hen Ezra.
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)
With its future hanging in the balance, Hapoel Tel Aviv hosts Maccabi Petah Tikva in Premier League action on Saturday night, hoping for a positive distraction ahead of one of the most important weeks in club history.
Hapoel’s already dire situation took another turn for the worse on Tuesday after trustee Shaul Kotler announced that he hadn’t received any bids for the club.
The Tel Aviv District Court approved earlier this month a request for a stay of legal proceedings due to debts estimated at over NIS 100 million. The trustees were then given two weeks to find a new owner to replace Amir Kabiri.
The trustees still have enough money to operate the club until next Thursday (January 5), but should no bids be made by then, Hapoel will go into administration.
The court could decide to liquidate the club and its assets, meaning all the players and the coaching staff will be released and Hapoel would no longer be part of the Premier League, ceasing to exist in its current format.
Judge Eitan Orenstein may also decide to order the trustees to try and keep Hapoel afloat with a meager budget which would see the team continue playing in the top flight, but probably still result in the release of the squad’s best players and see the side field players from the youth department.
“Unfortunately, the drama that we are witnessing is about to become a tragedy,” Kotler wrote in his report to the court.
“The illustrious football club of Hapoel Tel Aviv is on its way to disappearing.”
Hapoel, which is also facing the prospect of receiving a nine-point deduction as stipulated by Israel Football Association regulations even should a new owner arrive, enters Saturday’s match four points above the relegation zone.
The Reds have won just one of their past eight league games, but battled to an impressive 1-1 draw at champion Hapoel Beersheba on Sunday.
“It is very sad that this may be Hapoel Tel Aviv’s final match,” said coach Guy Luzon on Thursday. “We are all hoping for a miracle in the time that is left and that a new owner will save the club.”
Elsewhere Saturday, Maccabi Haifa, which has won just one of its past five matches, hosts Bnei Yehuda, which is tied on 12 points with rock-bottom Hapoel Ashkelon, which visits Ashdod SC on Sunday.
Hapoel Ra’anana welcomes Ironi Kiryat Shmona on Saturday, while Hapoel Haifa visits Hapoel Kfar Saba.
After going two straight league matches without a win for the first time this season, leader Hapoel Beersheba looks to get its campaign back on track when it visits Bnei Sakhnin on Sunday.
Beersheba, which won the Toto Cup on Wednesday with a 4-1 victory over Kiryat Shmona, can increase its gap at the top to 10 points for at least 24 hours, with Maccabi Tel Aviv going to Beitar Jerusalem on Monday.