mac netanya 88.
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For the last two decades, Maccabi Netanya has been no more than a footnote in Israeli soccer. The team - which was superb in the '70s, winning three championships, and was excellent in the early '80s, taking two more league titles - has not even come close to winning a title since its last championship 23 years ago.
Netanya has often been referred to as a sleeping giant, but the truth of the matter is that it is more of a deceased dwarf. The team has slowly but surely slipped into the abyss of mediocrity and up until this summer had not shown any signs of anything else but continuing its long decline.
Cue Daniel Jammer. The 40-year-old German born Jew completed the purchase of Netanya this summer and has finally breathed some life into the comatose team. Jammer has already initiated a complete transformation of the club and in an interview with The Jerusalem Post revealed his plans and intentions behind the takeover of Netanya.
"I see Maccabi as a long-term project," he declared. "My plans for the future are to build a completely new setup. We have already started to invest in boarding schools for the youth and have spent a large amount of money in infrastructure and in the senior team."
Jammer stresses over and over that Netanya is not just a hobby and a rich man's toy, but a way in which he can give something back to the community.
"My family and I decided to make aliya last November and I wanted to do something good for kids and youth," the millionaire said. "I decided that the best possible way to do some good was through sport and football."
After several hiccups in the negotiations to take over the team and after what seemed to be a neverending saga, Jammer took control of the club three months ago. He immediately began to transform the team and for the first time in more then 20 years, Netanya was back in the headlines.
One of the first moves Jammer made was to bring in Eyal Berkovic as the general manager. However, Berkovic stayed with the team for only a couple of months and left unceremoniously during a preseason camp abroad.
"Berkovic was a great player and is a very interesting man," Jammer noted. "On top of it all, he is also a very good friend of mine and sometimes you should not cross the border between friendship and business. We decided not to lose our friendship and we chose to end our working relationship."
Jammer makes sure he is involved in all team-related matters and as Berkovic can testify, he makes all the big decisions. "Even though I hired professional people in every part of the club, I think that as the owner I should look into everything," Jammer asserts. "Football has changed and isn't what it used to be. It is an industry that involves a lot of money.
"For me, it is very important that my identity and Netanya's move together. I do whatever I can to help."
Despite the influx of money and personnel, Jammer's expectations were not outrageous. "I'm a very realistic person. We have 20 new players and everything is new. When something is new, it takes a certain time until it works.
"I hope that the team stabilizes and becomes a powerful side in the future. In life, everything needs to be built from a solid foundation and you cannot expect that drastic changes will occur from one day to the next."
Succeed or fail, Netanya's season promises to be one of the most interesting stories in Israeli soccer this year. Either way, Jammer has no intention of leaving and made his feelings for Israel very clear. "My prime base is in Israel. My family lives here and I'm very happy and very proud to be an Israeli.
"For me, there is no other place for a Jew to live and I'm very happy to be here."
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