Hapoel Tel Aviv players enjoy a moment of celebration.
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Hapoel Tel Aviv regained a sense of normalcy for at least a couple of hours on Sunday night, beating Hapoel Ramat Hasharon of the National League 1-0 in Petah Tikva to advance to the State Cup round-of-16.
Aaron Schoenfeld scored the only goal of the match in the 52nd minute, starting for the team after missing the past two months of Premier League action following a fall-out with the club on the back of his transfer request.
Schoenfeld met the club’s new owners earlier Sunday and the sides agreed to let bygones be bygones, and it wasn’t until an hour before the match that coach Guy Luzon finally managed to assemble a starting lineup.
Luzon had no idea which players would be at his disposal for much of Sunday, with Hapoel still dealing with the aftershocks of last week’s change in ownership. After saving the club from going into administration, the new ownership group led by the Nisanov brothers got off to a rocky start with the players, demanding that they scrap their contracts and sign new deals.
The players objected and Tel Aviv District Court judge Eitan Orenstein ordered the representatives of the parties to meet on Sunday morning to try and resolve their differences.
The sides ultimately came to an agreement that the new owners will have three days to either offer the players new contracts or release them. The players also have the option to reject any offer made to them and leave the club for free.
In an announcement made on Friday, the Nisanov group said that it will pick up the contracts of Omri Altman, Edi Gotlieb, Aaron Schoenfeld, Ibrahim Sfuri, Gal Shish, Tzlil Hatuka and Itzik Sholmyster. The new owners came to an agreement with Avihai Yadin, Ofer Verta and Orel Dgani on Sunday, and they all started the match.
“I’m happy that the difficult situation didn’t become an excuse for a defeat,” said Luzon. “The players were worried about playing without a proper contract and without insurance in case they would be injured and I can also understand the new owners that don’t want to agree to contracts that they will not be able to pay later.”
The draw for the round-of-16 will be held on Monday. Hapoel Tel Aviv will be one of 12 Premier League teams in the draw, with four sides from the National League to also feature in the ceremony in Shefayim.
The Premier League teams include: Hapoel Beersheba, Maccabi Tel Aviv, Maccabi Petah Tikva, Ironi Kiryat Shmoa, Beitar Jerusalem, Bnei Sakhnin, Hapoel Haifa, Hapoel Ra’anana, Ashdod SC, Bnei Yehuda and Hapoel Ashkelon. The second division will be represented by Hapoel Ramat Gan, Beitar Tel Aviv/Ramle, Hapoel Jerusalem and Hapoel Rishon Lezion.