Cash-strapped Hap PT relegated to National League

The club went into liquidation last month in the hope of embarking on a new course and avoiding extinction.

hapoel petah tikva_311 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
hapoel petah tikva_311
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
One of the most decorated clubs in Israeli soccer hit rock bottom on Tuesday evening when Hapoel Petah Tikva conceded that it is unable to post the minimum budget required to play in the Premier League, resulting in its immediate relegation to the National League.
Petah Tikva retracted its appeal to the Israel Football Association’s high court on Tuesday after realizing that it could not meet the Budget Control Authority’s requirements any time soon, something it was supposed to do by last Thursday night.
The club went into liquidation last month in the hope of embarking on a new course and avoiding extinction.
But liquidators Lior Dagan and Amit Pines couldn’t achieve their first goal of keeping the team in the topflight, and Petah Tikva will now not only play in the second division next season, but will also have nine points deducted following the halving of points totals.
“I’m very sad. I didn’t think that it would end like this,” Petah Tikva CEO Efi Tzafrir said. “We tried to raise money from anyone who was willing to help, but we couldn’t do it.”
Hapoel Kfar Saba, which lost to Petah Tikva in the relegation playoffs last season, was given 24 hours on Tuesday to meet the IFA’s requirements and should it do so it will take Petah Tikva’s place.
Should Kfar Saba fail to post the minimum budget of NIS 11.4 million, Hapoel Ashkelon, which was relegated from the Premier League last season, will be the next in line.
“This is a difficult day. I feel like I have lost a child,” former IFA and Petah Tikva chairman Gavri Levy said.
“It won’t be easy to survive in the National League.”
Petah Tikva was the most successful club in the country in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, winning its first championship in 1954/55 before taking five straight league titles between 1959 and 1963, a record which still stands today.
The club also has two State Cups to its name, the last from 1992, but in the past decade it has struggled desperately.
In 2007, it was relegated to the National League after 23 consecutive seasons in the top-flight. It managed to return to the Premier League at the first time of asking, something it can only dream about in its current situation.