Eli Tabib .
(photo credit: DANI MARON/MAARIV)
Eli Tabib’s plans for Beitar Jerusalem remained shrouded in doubt on Monday, even as he announced the signing of Slobodan Drapic as the team’s new head coach.
The Beitar owner has yet to announce whether he plans to continue to run the club for another season, a decision he promised to make this week.
Tabib met with Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat twice over recent weeks to discuss Beitar’s future, with both parties agreeing that it would be in the club’s best interests to find a new owner.
According to a statement released by the Jerusalem Municipality, Barkat has found buyers, former owners, brothers Meir and Shaul Levy, who are willing to pay Tabib NIS 10 million for the club, and cover up to NIS 12 million of its debt.
Tabib seized control of the club two years ago without paying previous owner Arkadi Gaydamak a single shekel, agreeing to cover the club’s debts estimated at the time at NIS 12.5 million.
Tabib has yet to officially comment on the offer, but seems unlikely to accept the current proposal. He has spoken repeatedly of the pressure placed on him by his family to sell the club, especially after he was shot and lightly wounded outside his home in Kfar Shmaryahu in March. Police believe the shooting was connected with Israeli organized crime and that Tabib was a victim of extortion.
In the meantime, Tabib is trying to reduce the club’s payroll until a new owner comes along, refusing to extend coach Guy Levy’s contract and signing Drapic in his place.
Levy, who replaced Menahem Koretzki in February, led the club to European qualification for the first time since 2008, with Beitar ending the campaign in fourth place. However, Levy’s financial demands irritated Tabib, who instead chose to bring in Drapic, who spent the past couple of seasons coaching Beitar Tel Aviv/Ramle in the National League.
The 50-year-old Drapic, who was born in the former Yugoslavia, has lived in Israel since 1988 after first coming to the country to play for Maccabi Netanya.
Jerusalem currently only has eight players under contract for next season, but the squad is scheduled to already return to training next week, with Beitar to begin its continental campaign in the Europa League first qualifying round on July 2.
Barkat is hoping that by then Beitar will be under new ownership, with Tabib set to clarify his position in a press conference later this week.
“The mayor will continue in his attempts to help and promote Beitar Jerusalem and expects Tabib and the rest of the parties involved to place the good of Beitar ahead of any financial or other interests,” read the Jerusalem Municipality statement.
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