Betar’s financial situation still up in the air

Jerusalem chairman Itzik Kornfein looks for creative ways to ensure return to glory.

Itzik Kornfein_311 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Itzik Kornfein_311
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Betar Jerusalem will hold its third pre-season match ahead of the 2011/12 campaign at Ashdod SC on Tuesday, but the performance on the field seems to be of little significance with the club’s future still hanging in the balance.
With owner Arkadi Gaydamak refusing to fund the club and no one willing to take the team off his hands, chairman Itzik Kornfein has threatened that Betar will have to go into liquidation this week if it can’t find more sources of income.
Kornfein was hoping to raise more than NIS 3.5 million from the sale of striker Hen Azriel to Maccabi Haifa, but the player failed to agree to personal terms with the Greens once more on Monday, leaving Betar in a bind.
Jerusalem had hoped to create a balanced budget with the sale of Azriel combined with Kornfein’s decision to defer his NIS 900,000 yearly salary until next season and a cut in the salary of star players Aviram Bruchian and Amit Ben- Shushan.
However, it first and foremost needs to sell Azriel and Monday’s developments were a big blow for the club in its fight to avoid liquidation.
“Our situation is very unclear right now,” Kornfein told The Jerusalem Post. “We still don’t know what’s going to happen in terms of our coach, owner as well as players.
“It’s clear that at the end of the day the most important things are a balanced budget and good players. At this point there’s not much we can do.
“We are making an effort to solve our financial problems but we still haven’t found a solution.”
Kornfein met with Israel Football Association chairman Avi Luzon and Budget Control Authority chairman Ofer Orlitzky on Sunday, with the IFA determined to help Betar avoid turning to the courts.
Orlitzky believes that the fact that the club only has a small debt and has still got assets to sell means that it doesn’t face any real danger of extinction.
However, Kornfein insists that he will have to turn to the District Court if there are no dramatic developments in the coming days, starting with the sale of Azriel.
“We were asked not to sell players throughout the summer by people who were negotiating with Arkadi’s representatives, but at the moment there is no ongoing negotiation that might develop into a deal,” Kornfein said last week.
“That leaves us with two options. One is to sell Hen Azriel and defer payments and the other is to turn to the court. At the moment the only player there is any interest in is Azriel and if we sell him than maybe we will be able to pass our budget. Otherwise, we’ll have no choice but to turn to the court.”
Representatives of Betar fans have also met in order to help the club and agreed to try and raise money. However, they refuse to transfer any cash as long as Kornfein is still at the helm, rendering their initiative irrelevant.
Supporters blame Kornfein for the club’s dire financial situation and are outraged with the salary the chairman is being paid.
“There shouldn’t be a limit to how much a sports figure can earn. The owner should be the only person to determine such things,” Kornfein said.
“Let the IFA compare chairmen's salaries and prove that mine is the highest.”
As part of its search of a new owner and sponsors, Betar also prepared an English video with guest appearances by President Shimon Peres, Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat and former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
The video ends by calling on its viewer to “be a part of the dream,” but as things currently stand Betar’s worst nightmare could soon be a reality.