French midfielder Jerome Leroy arrives to sign for Betar

Billionaire Lev Leviev close to Hapoel Tel Aviv purchase.

By SHAORON SOLOMAN
December 8, 2005 03:50
4 minute read.
Lev Leviev 88

Lev Leviev 88. (photo credit: )

 
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When Arkadi Gaydamak says he will do something, it usually happens. Lens midfielder Jerome Leroy finally landed in Israel on Wednesday, despite many delays and conflicting reports about his arrival, and is expected to ink a contract in Betar Jerusalem by the end of the week. "I am here to sign with Betar. I had an offer from Marseille, but I elected to come to Israel, as I have never played overseas in my career," Leroy told reporters at the Ben Gurion airport. Betar General Manager Luis Fernandez called a press conference and confirmed, Leroys signing will pave the way for many other players to come here. "I am impressed with the young Israeli players in the club, but obviously a few veteran players are needed to guide and lead them." The experienced French boss is also considering the re-signing of former Israel international Tal Banin, whom he coached at Cannes in the 93-94‚ season. Banin played a large part in Betar's success last season, but moved to Maccabi Netanya after not receiving a contract extension over the summer. Betar play Netanya at Teddy stadium on Saturday night giving Fernandez the opporuintiny for a reunion with Banin Fernandez also announced the upcoming changes in the yellow-and-black's training facilities. New grass will be planted at Beit-Va-Gan grounds and the locker rooms will be renovated. Lev Leviev close to buying Hapoel Tel Aviv The traditional Betar Jerusalem-Hapoel Tel Aviv rivalry will soon have a new dimension as billionaire Lev Leviev is in the final stages of taking over Hapoel Tel Aviv and declaring a challenge on Arkadi Gaydamak's financial dominance in the Premier League. Leviev, a majority owner in diamond company Africa Israel, is expected to complete the technical formalities in the coming days and take 100% control of the Tel Aviv club. The Russian Jewish tycoon will also clear all the clubs debts, estimated at around NIS 50 million. Avraham Grant is rumored to be Leviev's leading candidate to take over next summer, when Dror Kashtan will replace him as national coach. Grant denies any connection with the club, despite being spotted entering Leviev's office in Tel Aviv last month. Born in Uzbeikstan in 1956, Leviev made his fortune in the diamond business. The Jewish tycoon is also religious and will do his best to prevent Hapoel Tel Aviv from playing on Shabbat. Leviev's spokesman, Tal Revina, commented: "The deal is still being negotiated. A formal announcement will be made when an agreement is reached." Maccabi Tel Aviv seeking new coach The search for a new head coach in Maccabi Tel Aviv is taking shape, after Nir Klinger resigned earlier this week following a string of bad results and growing unrest amongst the club's fans. Upper Nazareth's Motti Ivanir is the frontrunner to succeed Klinger, and may be signed after Sunday's Tel Aviv derby. The former Maccabi Tel Aviv star has expressed interest in taking over as head coach in his mother club, where he played for eight seasons during the 1980s. Ivanir told reporters earlier, "The things have leaked out, but it's not yet formal. Anyway, I can‚t afford to drag the issue for too long, as I have a team to lead." The Nazareth coach also hinted that he would play as many home players as possible and try to bring the fighting spirit back into the team.

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