Entire Betar management sacked

Drama as Gaydamak shows J'lem chairman and spokesman the door after poor start to season.

arkadi gaydamak 88 224 (photo credit: ar)
arkadi gaydamak 88 224
(photo credit: ar)
Arkadi Gaydamak has been known for his rash decisions, but few saw this one coming. On Monday the Betar Jerusalem owner made an unexpected cull of the club's entire top level management team, a day after the team opened the Israeli Premier League season with a disappointing 0-0 draw at Bnei Sakhnin. A negative atmosphere has surrounded the league champion since last month's embarrassing 5-0 Champions League qualifier defeat at the hands of Polish side Wisla Krakow. And Gaydamak, the club president, appeared to be at the end of his tether on Sunday night while watching the poor display against Sakhnin. The next morning he took the bull by the horns and, one by one, fired club chairman Eli Arazi, spokesman Oded Zargari, marketing manager Karen Fenigel and legal advisor Elad Eizenberg. Former goalkeeper Itzik Kornfine, who has worked in the position of club general manager for the past year, was named as Arazi's successor. A statement confirming the decisions was posted on the club's official Web site a while after the news broke all over the Israeli sports media. According to the official statement, Gaydamak had "decided to cut back on management expenditure." "Mr. Gaydamak emphasized that the reason for the termination was for a cutback in management budget and no other changes in managerial staff are expected soon," it read. The statement even included a quote from Arazi, who was said to have told his team: "Arkadi calls the shots and he makes the decisions. Itzik Korenfine will become chairman and it is up to him to continue building the team as we have in the last two years. I will assist him untill September 15 and after if necessary." According to the official Betar Web site the news of the dismissals "created a seismic ripple through the offices [of the club]." Web site editor Avi Waller, who has worked for Betar for just over a year, said there are now "very strong feelings of uncertainty for each of us in the office." "It was a big surprise," Waller told The Jerusalem Post. "Karen and Oded are my two direct managers and now I don't have any one to answer to. I suppose Kornfine is my direct advisor. I hope everything will be OK for me. Of course I know I could come to the office and be fired myself." Looking to the future Waller said he hopes things will improve. "Mr. Gaydamak is the boss. He thinks a lot before he makes a big decision and I trust him," he said. "I think he wants to do the best for the club and I hope good people will come and we can get out from all the troubles we got into - on the playing side and all the bad atmosphere in the club." Fenigel was the last of her family to work for the club, formerly partly owned by her father Meir Fenigel. Later Monday Fenigel senior described the situation as an "embarrassment." There has been no news as yet as to who will replace the four individuals and if it is possible to create some order before Sunday's clash with Maccabi Tel Aviv at Teddy Stadium. It has been a summer of drama at Betar. Only a few weeks ago Gaydamak convened a press conference at his offices in Jerusalem to announce that former coach Luis Fernandez would be returning to the club in an unspecified role. But last week Fernandez said that he, in fact, has a contract with a French television and radio company and will not be joining Betar any time soon. It had been assumed that Fernandez would eventually replace under fire Betar coach Itzhak Schum, and the ex-Panathinaikos coach still looks to be on his way out, even though he led the Jerusalem club to the league and cup double last season and the league title the season before. Just as they were following the defeat to Krakow, the names of former Betar players Uri Malmilian and Eli Ohana are being mentioned as possible successors to Schum.