(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Tuesday night’s Toto Cup finalists Ironi Kiryat Shmona and Hapoel Tel Aviv are
as different as any two soccer clubs in Israel.
While Hapoel is your
typical big club, with a budget and ambition to match, Kiryat Shmona is your
classic peripheral team, both geographically and historically from a soccer
However, the most significant distinction between the two
clubs is in the identity of their owners.
In a way, you couldn’t find two
people more different than Kiryat Shmona’s Izzy Sheratzky and Hapoel’s Eli
While Sheratzky is the kind of person Israeli soccer needs, Tabib
is the typecast owner the local game would be far better
Ideally, a fan would like the man running his beloved club to
actually care for it as much as he does.
However, Sheratzky is an example
of how not having any previous connection with the club you purchase is not
necessarily a disadvantage, while Tabib’s ownership is simply the fulfillment of
every fan’s worst nightmare.
In a nutshell, the difference between the
two is that Sheratzky has the club’s best interests at heart and cares for the
community, while Tabib only seems to be concerned with his own
At the turn of the century, Sheratzky, the owner of Ituran,
decided to take control of Kiryat Shmona’s two teams, Hapoel and Maccabi, and
set up a club with the target of reaching the top-flight, simply because he was
looking to help a beleaguered region of the country.
Kiryat Shmona was
promoted to the Premier League for the first time in its history in 2007, and
despite suffering relegation two years later, Sheratzky stood by his investment
and is reaping his due rewards this season, with the northerners currently
leading the standings by 11 points after 22 matches.
opportunities to take over Maccabi Tel Aviv, the club he has supported since
childhood, but he understood that his work at Kiryat Shmona is far more
important and vowed to stay.
After leaving Hapoel Kfar Saba in complete
ruin following his 16 years (1994-2009) as owner, Tabib officially bought a 50
percent stake at Hapoel to join Moni Harel as a co-owner in the summer of
It all began to go downhill, both on and off the pitch, when Tabib
seized full control of the club last summer, with Hapoel currently 12 points
behind Kiryat Shmona after sacking coach Dror Kashtan and operating without a
chairman, CEO and press officer for the last 10 days following their
Hapoel fans have united in a campaign to oust
Tabib and volunteers operating the club’s official website posted a letter on
the homepage on Tuesday calling for the owner to leave.
But Tabib has
promised time and again in recent days that he has no intention of going
anywhere, failing to understand that a soccer club is unlike any other
The problem is, there are hardly millionaires standing in line
looking to flush their money down the drain that is an Israeli soccer club,
meaning we are stuck with the likes of Tabib, who due to his criminal record was
ruled to be unfit to own a soccer club by District Court Judge Amnon Straschnov
way back in August 2000.
As for Sheratzky, he doesn’t simply deserve a
championship for his contribution, he deserves the Israel
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