Hapoel Tel Aviv’s manager Eyal Berkovic.
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Hapoel Tel Aviv was plunged into turmoil on Monday after part-owner Ido Hagag announced he was leaving the club.
Hagag decided to withdraw his financial backing after a group of drunk supporters came to his home and tried to confront him. Hagag was not in the country at the time, but his wife and children were terrified by the screaming fans and left the apartment soon afterwards.
“The fans crossed a red line,” Hagag said. “After considering the matter with my family I have decided to no longer be involved in the running of Hapoel Tel Aviv. I promise to continue and help support the club and come to its games.”
Due to Hagag’s departure, the club’s budget could shrink by as much as a third. Striker Omer Damari was on his way out of Hapoel to help cover the club’s deficit even before Hagag had left and star midfielder Gili Vermut may now also follow in his footsteps following Monday’s developments.
“The club regrets the departure of Ido Hagag and thanks him for giving money, time and energy to Hapoel,” read a club statement. “A small, violent and thuggish group continues to hurt the club after causing damage in the excess of NIS 2 million over the past two years, as well as tarnishing the club’s reputation.
“As a result, the club has failed to find a buyer and the chances of doing so in the future are only diminishing.”
Despite the uncertainty regarding the future of the team, new club manager Eyal Berkovic said he has no intention of leaving the club. Hagag’s announcement also means the head of the club’s ownership group Haim Ramon will have to once more increase his involvement.
Any hope Hapoel had of alleviating its financial problems by succeeding in European competition was effectively dashed last week following a 3-0 defeat to Astana in Kazakhstan in the first leg of the Europa League second qualifying round. Hapoel hosts the second leg in Cyprus on Thursday.