Hapoe Petah Tikva cleans house

President Ronen Elad fired coach Rafi Cohen and also terminated chairman Gavri Levi's contract.

In an interesting development late Monday night, Hapoel Petah Tikva president Ronen Elad fired coach Rafi Cohen and also terminated chairman Gavri Levi's contract. Former star and coach Nir Levin has been hired as Cohen's replacement until the end of the season. Petah Tikva is a club in turmoil after its offseason disintegration and a poor start to the 2005/06 season. The blues have lost four straight matches and are already deep in the relegation zone. The current Toto Cup holders lost their long time sponsor Meir Shamir over the summer, which lead to coach Dror Kashtan's resignation and the sale of the team's leading stars, including Avi Yechiel, Adoram Keisi, Klemi Saban, Erez Eliav and Shlomi Arbitman, to rival clubs. Elad has taken lots of heat from the club's frustrated fans lately and called for an emergency board meeting last night to initiate the drastic moves. Nir Levin is returning for his fourth term as head coach of Hapoel Petah Tikva, where he was a star striker for many years and won the National Cup in the 1991/92 season with a young Avraham Grant on the sidelines. "This club belongs to the Premier League and we will do everything to make this happen. Rafi Cohen is my friend and we will stay friends, despite the developments," Levin told reporters on Tuesday after conducting his first training session. Also Tuesday, Armenian striker Ilya Yevorian signed with Kashtan's Hapoel Tel Aviv for the next four seasons. Kashtan, who coached the player in Petah Tikva last season, decided to give him a chance to rediscover his form with the reds. Many members of the "Blue Panthers," Petah Tikva's largest fan club, have protested the sale of Yevorian and are promising to boycott the derby this weekend.