(photo credit: Courtesy of Yossi Zeliger )
Brazilian-born businessman Guma Aguiar is considering entering into a sponsorship deal with Betar Jerusalem rather than taking full ownership of the club.
According to sources close to the Jewish energy magnate, the due diligence examination of a possible deal involving Betar by Aguiar's legal and business experts has entered its "final phase."
While it had first been thought that Aguiar was only interested in taking total control of the club, the sources told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday that "a few new directions are being studied, one of which includes a possible sponsorship approach to the team for the near future that would begin at some point towards the new season."
It was stressed by the sources that this specific idea would only be feasible if it were fully agreed to by both the Israel Football Association and the current owner of the team.
Owner Arkadi Gaydamak, who has been in Russia since he left Israel in December following his failure to make an impact on the Jerusalem mayoral elections, has made it clear that he is only prepared to continue funding Betar Jerusalem until the end of this month.
If a new buyer or sponsor is not found, then last year's league/cup double winner would be forced into bankruptcy.
One of the most pressing concerns has been Betar's participation in European competition next season. Earlier this month Jerusalem was told it would not be allowed to play in UEFA competitions as the club's management was unable to provide the neccesary financial guarantees.
Last week UEFA gave Betar a final deadline of May 27 to come up with the guarantees.
The due diligance has been continuing since Aguiar first became interested in becoming involved with Betar in the first week of May.
Detailed meetings with Guma and his key advisers on the possibility of a sponsorship deal will take place this week and possibly into early next week.
According to the sources, "Every effort is being taken to conclude this process in a timely manner."
Betar Jerusalem chairman Itzik Kornfein said he was aware of the sponsorship option but would not comment on the issue until an official announcement is made.