Maccabi Tel Aviv is going through one of its worst seasons in club history, which has brought owner Loni Herzikovic under lots of fire. Demands to return the yellow-and-blue to its glory days are growing louder.
Tel Aviv is by far the most successful soccer club in Israel, with no less than 14 domestic league championships and 16 State Cup wins, but failed to live up to expectations this season. The club is currently in fifth place in the Premier League standings, with only 39 points, and has no chance of European qualification.
Philip Solomon, who started the season as Arkadi Gaydamak's right-hand man at Betar Jerusalem, has been recruited by Herzikovic to serve as the team's technical director in an attempt to change the club's reeling fortunes.
"Our Champions League stint two years ago made me understand that Israeli soccer has a long way to go to compete with Europe's best," the Maccabi boss told reporters at a press conference on Monday. "I had to bring in a significant European figure who would dedicate all his time to upgrading the club. Solomon has agreed to help us in our mission."
Herzikovic, owner of the Isfar electronics distributor Isfar, Sony's representative in Israel, announced that he will continue to own the club with his financial support, but Solomon will take over the micro-management and will be responsible for all of the professional and technical decisions.
The three-year long partnership deal will be finalized and inked later this week, while Herzikovic will have an option to exercise a one-year extension.
Other Israeli businessmen are part of the collaboration, but their identities are being kept secret at least until the official signing.
"I am very happy to join the Maccabi Tel Aviv family," an enthusiastic Solomon declared. "Although many technical details are to be finalized, I can promise the fans that there will be big names joining us this summer and I will also put an emphasis on improving our merchandising and marketing divisions."
The French tycoon, who helped Betar acquire Luis Fernandez and Jerome Leroy earlier this season, told The Jerusalem Post that Fernandez is one of the top candidates to coach the yellow-and-blue next season - if the latter chooses to leave Betar at the end of the season. Other potential targets in Europe will also be contacted in coming weeks.
Israeli soccer legends Mordechai Spiegler and Giora Spiegel, who has already served at the yellow-and-blue as a coach and a player, are expected to be appointed as technical advisers in Solomon's new regime. Current manager Eli Driks will continue in his position.