Levy bolts Betar for Bucharest

After Just five months at the helm, Betar Jerusalem coach Roni Levy agrees to join Steaua Bucharest of Romania.

Roni Levy 311 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Roni Levy 311
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Roni Levy was announced as coach of Romanian powerhouse Steaua Bucharest on Friday, infuriating his former employees at Betar Jerusalem.
The 44-year-old, who coached Unirea Urziceni to a runners-up finish in Romania in the 2009/10 campaign, only joined Betar in January, replacing Uri Malmilian after the team’s disappointing start to the season.
Levy agreed to a contract through the 2011/12 season and even though Jerusalem couldn’t avoid the relegation playoffs under his guidance, it was never really in any danger of losing its Premier League status and fans were looking forward to seeing what the coach could do with the team in the coming campaign.
However, Levy had no intention of turning down an offer from the 23-time Romanian champion, which also won the European Cup in 1985/86, and was announced as its new coach on Friday.
“Steaua’s future will be the same as its history – full of success,” said Levy, who guided Maccabi Haifa to three straight Premier League championships between 2004 and 2006.
“I think I will be able to do a good job here as I know Romania’s top division. Steaua’s aim is always to lift the title and that’s what I hope to achieve.”
Levy said he was given the blessing of Betar owner Arkadi Gaydamak, but Jerusalem reacted with anger after hearing its coach had signed elsewhere.
“Levy was clearly told by Betar owner Arkadi Gaydamak and by club chairman Itzik Kornfein that he cannot unilaterally break his contract and any agreement he reaches with another club requires Betar’s written consent,” a Jerusalem statement read. “That was not given and therefore the club’s legal advisors will look into what should be done next.”
Betar added that the identity of Levy’s successor will be decided at the beginning of this week, with Levy’s assistant from last season, David Amsalem, the current favorite to get the job.
Since leaving Haifa following the 2007/08 season, Levy has experienced little success, coaching Maccabi Petah Tikva for just 11 months before spending six months at Urziceni and five months at Betar.
However, he never lost his status as one of Israel’s top coaches and can’t wait to lead Bucharest back to its former glory, with the Romanians not winning a league title since 2006.
“It is a great honor to receive an offer from the most illustrious club in Romania,” Levy said. “Betar is very important to me and in my short time there I became very close with the players, coaches and fans. But this is a very significant move in my career.”