IFA signs off on Betar-Gaydamak deal

Russian billionaire Arkadi Gaydamak was finally approved as the official owner of Betar Jerusalem.

Russian billionaire Arkadi Gaydamak was finally approved as the official owner of Betar Jerusalem by the Israeli Football Association on Thursday. The business tycoon agreed to buy the club from Meir Fenigel and Meir Levi last month, but the IFA had not authorized the purchase due to doubts about Gaydamak's financial sources and his legal problems with the French authorities. Over the last few weeks Gaydamak has been turning in paperwork for inspection by league budget supervisor Yair Rovinovic, and financial advisor Moshe Avivi, who gave the deal the go-ahead. The IFA authorized the ownership transfer three days ahead of Betar's clash with reigning Premier League champion Maccabi Haifa at Teddy Stadium. Saturday's main fixture in Matchday 3 of the Premier League sees point-less Maccabi Netanya faces another tough task with a visit to Bloomfield Stadium to face Dror Kashtan's Hapoel Tel Aviv. Reuven Atar's Netanya side has yet to collect a point this season after losses to Maccabi Petah Tikva and Betar Jerusalem. The reds from Tel Aviv will be aiming to bounce back from last Sunday's humiliating derby defeat, when they went down 2-0 to arch rival Maccabi Tel Aviv. With few injuries, Kashtan is expected to field his strongest lineup. Maccabi Netanya has signed Congolese striker Papi Kimoto, who may make his debut. Also Saturday, Hapoel Kfar Saba will host league front-runner Maccabi Tel Aviv. The IFA had initially refused to allow the match to be played at Levita Stadium because one grandstand does not have seats. This section of the stadium will be open for Maccabi's fans for this game only, despite protests from the visitors. Maccabi Tel Aviv, which has a perfect league record this season, is expected to collect all the three points from the home side, which has yet to win a game this season. Tel Aviv's starting sweeper, Cristian Gonzalez, is suffering from an abdominal strain and is doubtful. Croatian international Giovanni Rosso picked up a knock in Thursday's training session, but expects to be fit for the game. The league's third Tel Aviv side, Bnei Yehuda, will travel north to face surprisingly successful Upper Nazareth in the matchday opener on Friday. Motti Ivanir's Upper Nazareth has proved many experts wrong with a terrific start to the season, gathering four points from its first two games despite the departure of top stars such as Yoav Ziv and Jose Duarte. Nazareth has opened negotiations with Brazilian star Gabriel Lima, who played for Bnei Yehuda last season and was released over the summer. Haim Benon, the team's talented midfielder, will be out until his knee injury is diagnosed. Hapoel Petah Tikva, which visits Ashdod SC on Saturday, has continuing problems with its management and unrest amongst the fans. Nigerian Toto Tamuz, who is waiting for his Israeli citizenship, has been registered with the IFA as a foreigner and will be eligible to play for the blues. Earlier this week, Ashdod signed the gifted Kfir Udi, who has played for Bnei Yehuda, Maccabi Petah Tikva and Hapoel Tel Aviv. The physical and dynamic striker will add more power to Ashdod's attack, which already features veteran Shai Holtzman and Felix Obuka.