For the sixth time this season, Hapoel Tel Aviv will be hauled in front of the Israel Basketball Association's disciplinary committee over its fans' behavior during and after Sunday's league loss to Barak Netanya.
The indictment cites the harsh report written by the referees who took charge of the ill-tempered game and includes seven different clauses, including failure to prevent fans from coming onto the court.
The team could face a plethora of punishments. Shuki Kramer, the IBA's legal adviser, wants the league to order Hapoel to close the first three rows in the bleachers for the rest of the season, to erect a fence around the court and to pay for extra police officers to be on duty during all its home games. In addition, Hapoel could be ordered to play its next two 'home' games at least 50 kilometers from its home arena, as well as pay a fine of up to NIS 15,000.
Kramer is not indicting Hapoel chairman Rami Cohen, however, and has said that a written warning to him will suffice.
In response to the charges, Hapoel issued a statement saying that any ban on holding home games "would be a serious blow to the finances of a team that is anything but rich."
Hapoel Tel Aviv is the first and only fan-owned sporting franchise in Israel. After a six-year absence, it finally won promotion back to the top tier of Israeli basketball, but its return has been marred by several untoward incidents involving fans and, on at least one occasion, players.
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