Soccer: Canadian billionaire buys Maccabi TA

New owner Alex Shnaider promises to improve Maccabi's situation on and off the field.

alex shnaider 224.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
alex shnaider 224.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Canadian Jewish businessman Alex Shnaider finally completed the purchase of Maccabi Tel Aviv Soccer Club on Tuesday night after former owner Loni Hertzikovitch settled his protracted dispute with businessman Roni Mana. Shnaider will now own 80 percent of the club with the remaining 20 percent owned by the Maccabi Tel Aviv sports federation. Although the price paid by Shnaider was not officially published, it is believed to have been in the region of NIS 65 million. "We thank Loni Hertzikovitch for all the years he gave Maccabi Tel Aviv Football Club and for all the effort he's put into the club for over a decade," a statement released by the Midland Group, which is co-owned by Shnaider read. "We also would like to thank attorney Yoram Yosifof and his partner Roni Mana for investing time and money in the team in the last year." Shnaider had given Hertzikovitch and Mana until Friday to end their dispute after Mana, who invested money in the club at the start of the season demanded compensation following the provisional agreement to sell the club reached earlier this month. The 39-year-old Shnaider was born in Russia and his worth has been estimated at $1.8 billion by Forbes magazine. The Midland Group has a large stake in Zaporizhstal, the fourth-largest steel mill in Ukraine and also has interests in real estate, retail and manufacturing. Maccabi will not be Shnaider's first venture in the sporting world. The billionaire is the former owner of the Midland Formula One racing team, which he renamed after purchasing the Jordan F1 team in 2005. After two years at the bottom of the F1 standings Shnaider sold the team in September 2006 to Dutch sports car maker Spyker. "I think that we should first of all thank Hertzikovitch for all his years at the club, good and bad," Maccabi Tel Aviv general manager and captain Avi Nimni told Sport 5. "I believe Maccabi will look different in the future. It won't happen over night because we need to rebuild the team. We will, however, have the resources to do very well." Maccabi, which has never been relegated from the Israeli Premier League, is just three points above the relegation zone, 13 matches into the season. The team has won just three games so far and had lost six games in a row at one stage this season. The new ownership is expected bring a massive change to the illustrious club, as a statement released by the Midland Group last week revealed. "Maccabi Tel Aviv and its junior club make up one of the largest and most elite sporting organizations in Israel," Maccabi's new owner said. "We make no secret of our desire to nurture and improve Maccabi Tel Aviv's situation, both on and off the field. "I am looking forward to strengthening my ties with Israel, and hopefully restoring this proud franchise to its rightful Premier League status."