Betar, Ossie Ardiles agree to terms

Yaniv Katan returns from England, chooses Maccabi Haifa.

soccer ball 88 (photo credit: )
soccer ball 88
(photo credit: )
After weeks of speculation, Argentinian World Cup winner Ossie Ardiles was named the new Betar Jerusalem head coach on Tuesday. The former Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle United manager had met with Betar's billionaire owner Arkadi Gaydamak and club chairman Vladimir Shklar during a trip to Israel over the weekend. On Tuesday, Gaydamak offered Ardiles a contract worth a reported $500,000 for one year. Ardiles, 53, is expected to return to Jerusalem in the next 10 days to complete the deal and replace Frenchman Luis Fernadez, who quit last month. Following the announcement, Shklar told The Jerusalem Post he was "very happy that Ardiles is going to train Betar." "We are sure he will be a success here and we hope he gets the fans' support," Shklar added. The decision put an end to the debate over who would lead the club into the coming season. Until Sunday it had been widely assumed that former Israel national team coach Avraham Grant would be taking charge, but Gaydamak is thought to have preferred a big name foreigner who can attract quality players from outside Israel, and on Sunday Grant ruled himself out. In recent weeks, former England managers Kevin Keegan and Terry Venables and ex-Romania coach Georghe Hagi have all been linked with the position. Ardiles has more than 10 years experience managing clubs around the world, although he has had a distinct lack of success, compared with his fantastic playing career. Betar assistant coach Guy Azuri said he is "very excited" to work with Ardiles. "I think Ardiles was a tremendous football player and I am sure we will gain a lot from his experience at the club," Azuri told The Jerusalem Post. "All I hope is that together we will bring Betar to the place the club want to be. We all want to win the championship next season." Referring to the many changes in the coaching staff last season, Azuri added, "One of the most important things in a football club is stability and quietness. We need it next year. I'm sure that's what everyone wants and I hope Ardiles will start and finish the season." The 2005/06 season was one of upheaval for the Jerusalem club. Eli Ohana was the coach at the beginning of the campaign, but left after only one Premier League match. Ton Caanen took over, but soon after Fernandez was brought in as general manager, moved to Maccabi Tel Aviv as Fernandez took on the responsibilities of head coach as well. Azuri remained on the coaching staff, working as assistant to all three head coaches and even taking control in between Ohana and Caanen. Betar finished in third place in the league, guaranteeing a spot in the UEFA Cup. Yaniv Katan rejects Betar offer, signs for four years with Haifa Yaniv Katan has returned to Maccabi Haifa, just five months after leaving for the English Premier League's West Ham United. The dynamic forward turned down a lucrative offer from Betar Jerusalem to join his former team. West Ham United signed Katan in January's mid-season transfer window, but he failed to find a place in Alan Pardew's starting rotation. Pardew also left no room for speculation when he announced that Katan was not in his plans for next season. Katan returned to Israel last week and, despite Betar Jerusalem's $800,000-per-season offer, decided to rejoin Maccabi Haifa in a four-year deal. Terms of the contract have not been disclosed due to pending formalities from West Ham's side. "I'm very happy to return to Haifa," Katan said after finalizing the deal. "I have played here for many years and everybody knows what sacrifices I have made to return to the club. Roni Levy wanted me back on the team, and the feeling was mutual." This development means that Shlomi Arbitman is on his way out, as his contract with the greens ends this summer. Maccabi Tel Aviv, Hapoel Tel Aviv and Betar Jerusalem are being mentioned as possible destinations for the unsettled striker.