The Last Word: It's time for Arkadi to say goodbye

Hopefully the Betar owner has had enough of Israeli sports and will give Aguiar the chance he deserves.

jeremy last better pic (photo credit: Courtesy)
jeremy last better pic
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Tuesday's Betar Jerusalem press conference revealing Brazilian-born American energy mogul Guma Aguiar's sponsorship of the club was a curious affair. Amidst the numerous speeches expressing delight by people connected to Betar, such as chairman Itzik Kornfein, as well as others with no real connection, such as Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat, it was easy to overlook the fact that no actual announcement was made. Those in the room were so sure that the media masses present knew that Aguiar had agreed to donate $4 million to keep the team going that they never actually said so. Aguiar suddenly became the hottest guest in town and spent the rest of the week flitting from TV studio to studio, via the Betar training ground, attempting to explain the situation surrounding his involvement in one of the most popular sports teams in Israel. What has become quite clear is that Aguiar may have bought some influence in Betar, but controversial Russian-born businessman Arkadi Gaydamak remains the official owner. Therein lies the potential problem which must be solved for the sake of the future of Israeli sports. Gaydamak needs to let go and realize that he is no longer wanted, or needed. Over the nearly four years he ran affairs at Betar he caused nearly as much trouble as the success his team created. The club may have won the league and State Cup both twice but Betar was constantly in a state of uncertainty, be it from the sackings of four of the eight coaches who led the team during Gaydamak's time or the confusion over the owner's intentions or long term plans. What Betar needs is stability and for that to happen Gaydamak must move on. The situation has been complicated by the large debts Arkadi left behind when he fled to Moscow in November last year and the worst thing that could happen would be for him to change his mind and decide to try and get back involved. Gaydamak is a bitter man, as has been evident in his recent radio interviews where he blames various Israelis for driving him out of the country. Hopefully he has had enough of Israeli sports and will give Aguiar the chance he deserves.