Luzon's tinkering is destined to hurt Israeli soccer

Luzons tinkering is des

By
October 7, 2009 06:36
2 minute read.

 
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We may be less than two months into the Israeli soccer season, but it is already painfully clear that Avi Luzon's revolutionary changes to the format of the country's top two divisions are bringing complete ruin on the National League. While the jury is still out on the impact of Luzon's tinkering with the Premier League, all the evidence already points towards an unequivocal and damning verdict against the Israel Football Association chairman concerning the National League. Luzon's ridiculous and senseless plan for Israel's two professional leagues will end up crippling Israeli soccer by bringing about the downfall of the second division. Each league has already grown from 12 to 16 teams and in the final months of the season an unsporting points system will be introduced to ensure excitement. After two rounds in which each team will play 30 matches, the leagues will be split into three sections and the teams will have their point totals halved. We are still far from the stage where for some inexplicable reason the leagues will be divided and points will be deducted, but after just five matches it is already evident that the decision to increase the National League to 16 teams has turned it into Israel's top amateur league instead of the country's second professional league. Matches in the National League may have never been played at the highest of levels, but in previous seasons you were always guaranteed to have a handful of former top teams, and the odd new face, fighting to return to the top-flight, ensuring an exciting battle for promotion. However, after six teams were handed promotion to the Premier League last season, and seven clubs from the now deceased Liga Artzit, previously Israel's third division, progressed to the National League, the second division has transformed into a league with a majority of part-time players. Public interest has dropped to an all-time low, with hardly any games attracting more than 1,000 fans. Of the eight matches played this week, none was watched by more than 500 people, with a mere total of 3,000 present at all the games combined. The National League used to be a pleasant sideshow for the average Israeli soccer fan, but nowadays many of its matches are attended exclusively by family members, a couple of journalists and the odd stray dog. Television channel Sport5 owns the rights to broadcast the league, but has refused to show its games as it expects few viewers to tune in. The collapse of the National League will have a long term effect on Israel's top-flight. Teams promoted from the second division will be completely unequipped to compete against the country's best, and the level of play will also be affected, as an amateur National League means a smaller base of decent local players for clubs to select from. Any way you look at it, Luzon's revolution is destroying the National League, and hurting Israeli soccer as a whole in the process. It will take several years until Luzon's changes are reversed, and a few more seasons after that before we see the National League return to its former self. For the time being, all we can do is hope that the damage already done is not beyond repair. Allon@jpost.com

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