Sinai Says: Just who is to blame for the downfall of Hapoel Holon?

One of the most concerning aspects of Hapoel Holon's rapid demise has been the fact that there's no one person to blame.

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July 2, 2008 00:02
2 minute read.
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One of the most concerning aspects of Hapoel Holon's rapid demise has been the fact that there's no one person to blame. No one at whom you can point your finger and say: 'you have reduced Israel's worthy basketball champion into just another mediocre team'. The obvious perpetrator is former owner Miki Dorsman. After all, his decision to walk out on the club he coached and financed to the championship is what has brought about this entire situation. The straw that broke Dorsman's back was his failure to attract sponsors to the club despite winning the league title. The 42-year-old believed that money would begin to flow into the club following its historic triumph, but after a month of meetings with numerous parties, he ended up with nothing but disillusionment. It is, however, unfair to blame Dorsman for the downfall of his beloved Holon. After six seasons of almost exclusively funding the club Dorsman has the right to stop spending millions of his own money on a club which represents the city of Holon. Mayor of Holon, Moti Sasson, has for years angered Dorsman and Hapoel fans for his refusal to increase the municipality's budgeting of the club. Sasson only agreed to fund Holon's youth program, refusing, for example, to use public resources for the payment of a foreign basketball player. It's easy as sports fans to direct the fault at Sasson, but the truth must be told, he's only taking care of the interests of his city as he sees them. Sasson, who has been mayor of the city since 1993, is widely regarded as one of the better mayors in Israel and you can't blame him for spending his citizens' taxes on improving the city's infrastructure rather than on the salary of a basketball player. The fact that neither Dorsman nor Sasson are to blame for the collapse of Holon, sadly leads to one simple conclusion. There's no room in Israeli basketball for more than one team. Maccabi Tel Aviv is guaranteed of playing in European basketball's most lucrative competition, the Euroleague, regardless of its league results, which effectively shuts out the chance of any other team building itself a stable financial foundation. There's nothing to attract big sponsors to what is generally a very dull Israeli basketball league, leaving teams to either settle for a small uncompetitive budget or place their fate in the hands of some millionaire or another. The problem, as the Dorsman case has proven, is that the millionaires are never in it for the long run. Time and again basketball fans are left brokenhearted and with their dreams in tatters because of their teams' dependence on a millionaire's financing. This year it's the Holon supporters in tears and, unless something changes, it will be some other fans in the same situation in the near future. Only a competitive league can save Israeli basketball and give fans and sponsors alike some hope for the future. So simple, yet in reality nothing short of impossible. allon@jpost.com


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