Adler and Levin: The latest twist in the Betar soap opera

The Americans took the entire Betar Nation on a weeklong rollercoaster ride before disappearing like thieves in the night.

BETAR JERUSALEM’S new owners 311 (photo credit: John Solomon)
BETAR JERUSALEM’S new owners 311
(photo credit: John Solomon)
The first thing that came to mind when speaking to Dan Adler shortly after he and Adam Levin signed a deal to take over Betar Jerusalem three weeks ago was how clueless the American was.
Anyone who calls for all Israelis to unite around Betar clearly knows little, if anything, about Israel or sports in general.
It wasn’t hard to predict that the pair wouldn’t last long in Jerusalem, but surely no one imagined they would bail out on the floundering club so quickly and so remarkably.
With owner Arkadi Gaydamak refusing to transfer the club any funds, chairman Itzik Kornfein threatened last month that Betar would have to slash its expenses and off-load its brightest prospects to avoid liquidation and begin the upcoming season as planned.
However, just when it seemed that Jerusalem had no other option, Adler and Levin intensified their interest and on July 14 signed a deal to purchase the club without actually transferring a single shekel to Gaydamak, instead agreeing to pay his creditors an estimated $400,000 they are owed by the Russian-Israeli oligarch.
The last obstacle standing in the way of the takeover seemed to fall last Monday when the Jerusalem District Court lifted an injunction it handed down the previous week following a request by former sponsor Guma Aguiar.
Adler and Levin were quick to announce that “we have already ordered our lawyers to transfer the $400,000 to Gaydamak’s trustee’s account” and claimed that they look forward to helping Betar back to its former glory.
However, even at that stage there were growing concerns that the American businessmen would not put their money where their mouths were.
Judge Moshe Drori wondered at the start of the proceedings as to why the court was even discussing the matter “if the buyers or their representatives didn’t even bother to show up.”
Drori foresaw what was set to unfold when he asked Gaydamak’s lawyers and Kornfein: “What exactly are you fighting for? They have seven registered lawyers and not even one of them has come to court.”
While most people in court snickered at what they thought was some comic relief to break up a tense week, Kornfein remained stone-faced, perhaps realizing that there was truth to Drori’s words.
Despite numerous promises that the money was on its way, Adler and Levin failed to live up to their side of the bargain and plunged Betar back into crisis when they pulled out of the deal last Thursday, claiming that it should be renegotiated.
Two weeks earlier, Adler had told The Jerusalem Post: “We pride ourselves on being people who do what they say they are going to do.
We are jumping into this not because we want to jump in and jump out but because we are making a very long commitment and we believe it is actually not only going to be a long road ahead but an incredibly exciting and promising one.”
However, those proved to be no more than empty words by someone who claimed that he had come to contribute to Israeli society, but instead cruelly crushed the dreams of hundreds of thousands of Betar fans.
It makes no difference if the deal fell through because Levin couldn’t handle the pressure of left-wing friends urging him to avoid buying a club known for its nationalistic fan-base or because Adler failed to recruit more investors like he assumed he would be able to.
Either way, Adler and Levin were out of their depth from the start and once they realized that, they escaped the sinking ship, shamelessly leaving Betar to go under.
“I have no words. I have seen quite a bit during my career, but I have never seen anything like this,” Betar coach David Amsalem said about Adler and Levin after seeing his team draw 2-2 at Ashdod SC in its first Toto Cup match of the season on Saturday.
“There is a lot of uncertainty at the club and we are taking it one day at a time. We were optimistic when we thought we had new owners, but we have now gone backwards. We will do whatever it takes so that this club will survive.”
The sale of Hen Azriel to Maccabi Haifa for approximately one million dollars combined with the deferring of the salaries of Kornfein and starplayers Aviram Bruchian and Amit Ben-Shushan, should allow Betar to post its budget as required with the Israel Football Association’s Budget Control Authority after receiving an extension on the original July 28 deadline.
“When Adler and Levin arrived we saw the light, but the day I realized that they aren’t answering their phones and pulling out of the deal was the most depressing day of my life,” Betar captain Bruchian told Jerusalem radio.
“It is very difficult to keep taking such blows. This will be one of the toughest seasons Betar has ever experienced.”
Betar looks set to survive for another season, but the disgraceful antics of Adler and Levin were another nail in the coffin of the illustrious club that simply can’t manage to get a break.
Betar deserves so much better and hopefully it will finally find its savior before it is too late.
God knows that, as of late, it has had to deal with more than its fair share of egomaniacs, lunatics and charlatans.
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