maccabi haifa champions 248 88.
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Maccabi Haifa owner Jacob Shahar confirmed on Sunday that the club's budget will be cut despite the fact the team will be playing in the Champions League qualifiers next season.
Haifa will receive the Premier League championship trophy ahead of its final match of the season against Betar Jerusalem on Monday, but will begin its preparations for next season in a mere two weeks as it starts its qualifying campaign for European soccer's premier competition in mid-July.
"Our budget for next season will be NIS 35 million. Not a shekel more," Shahar said. "We're cutting the budget because of the global recession and because we expect the league to be weaker next season."
Shahar attacked the Israel Football Association's decision to expand the league to 16 teams.
"This is a disaster," Shahar said. "There aren't enough good Israeli players. People keep talking about the level of play, but Israeli soccer first and foremost needs better facilities. I wouldn't allow cows on Hakoach Amidar Ramat Gan's home pitch. Our players could have broken their legs."
Shahar also announced for the first time that coach Elisha Levy will remain at the club.
"We won't make many changes, maybe sign three or four new players," Levy said when asked if the team plans to revamp the squad.
"We have a good core of players and the most important thing is that we strengthen the squad in the right positions."
Another team which is already well into its preparations for next season is the newly-promoted Hapoel Beer Sheba.
The southern club announced the signing of coach Guy Azuri, who began the season at Maccabi Petah Tikva before quitting in December.