Sinai Says: Egos mar storybook season for Kiryat Shmona

Love affair between Ben-Shimon, Sheratzky has soured so much the 2 can no longer co-exist at Kiryat Shmona.

Ran Ben-Shimon (left) and club owner Izzy Sheratzky (right) (photo credit: Asaf Kliger/Adi Avishai)
Ran Ben-Shimon (left) and club owner Izzy Sheratzky (right)
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger/Adi Avishai)
Ironi Kiryat Shmona fans must be pulling their hair out.
With a historic Premier League championship within touching distance, this should be the most joyous time of their lives as supporters of a club that only reached the top flight for the first time in 2007.
But perhaps inevitably, where there is success there is ego, and where there is remarkable success there is almost always unavoidable conflict.
Coach Ran Ben-Shimon is on the verge of leading Kiryat Shmona to arguably the most extraordinary championship campaign in Israeli soccer history, a campaign budgeted and inspired by club owner Izzy Sheratzky.
But the love affair between Ben-Shimon and Sheratzky has soured to such an extent that the two can no longer co-exist at Kiryat Shmona.
Sheratzky will never get over Ben-Shimon leaving him for Maccabi Tel Aviv after Kiryat Shmona ended its first ever season in the Premier League in a stunning third place.
However, Ben-Shimon lasted just eight matches at Maccabi before being fired early in the 2008/09 campaign, leaving his career in tatters.
Sheratzky may never forget that Ben-Shimon deserted him just when he thought the team was about to peak, but he did forgive the 41-yearold former Israel international and brought him back in April 2009.
Ben-Shimon couldn’t help Kiryat Shmona avoid relegation to the National League, but he took the team right back to the Premier League in the subsequent season and bygones seemed to be bygones.
But the idyllic picture up north was shattered in recent months following Ben-Shimon’s refusal to sign a contract extension.
While Ben-Shimon wants to keep his options open for as long as possible in the hope of cashing in on a triumphant year, the owner is already plotting his team’s progress to the Champions League next season, with the signing of a coach the first order of business.
Kiryat Shmona is the perfect place for Ben-Shimon at the moment and he knows it.
Ben-Shimon is the ideal coach for the northerners and Sheratzky can’t deny that.
So why can’t the two just get along?
Ben-Shimon is clearly concerned about missing out on the opportunity to move to a bigger club, perhaps assuming that it would be impossible to replicate this season’s success, with Kiryat Shmona still in the hunt for an unprecedented league, State Cup and Toto Cup treble.
But that is what Ben-Shimon thought to himself when he left the north four years ago and look how that ended up.
Sheratzky, for his part, refuses to give Ben-Shimon the raise he clearly deserves for this season’s accomplishments, playing hard ball in negotiations which should have been concluded long ago.
The owner was angered by Ben-Shimon’s request to include a release clause that would allow him to leave for Maccabi Haifa, but he should have just swallowed his pride and been happy to secure the coach’s services for at least one more campaign.
Ben-Shimon is worried about tying his foreseeable future to Kiryat Shmona, but instead of sympathizing with his ambitious coach, Sheratzky took it as a personal insult.
Rather than focusing on trying to become one of the smallest clubs to ever reach the group stage of the Champions League next season, Ben-Shimon and Sheratzky are looking too far into the future, worrying themselves with details that will likely never carry any consequence.
Kiryat Shmona fans surely never dared to dream of a 17-point gap at the top of the Premier League standings, which is what their team currently holds over second placed Hapoel Tel Aviv with eight matches left in the season.
But instead of planning the title celebrations, ones which for a side of Kiryat Shmona’s size may well never return, the team’s faithful are busy trying to come up with initiatives to bring Ben-Shimon and Sheraztky to see the club’s greater good rather than their narrow interests.
So sad how ego can ruin even the most uplifting story in Israeli soccer in recent memory. Follow Allon on Twitter: