Israeli striker Itay Schechter is set to rejoin Hapoel Tel Aviv after signing a five-year contract on Thursday. Dozens of fans turned up at the team’s Holon training ground to welcome the 26-year-old international.
Given the uncertain financial situation of their team, however, it’s just as likely that the fans were there to make sure that the deal went through. They need not have worried, though, since the club’s management, sponsor and some of the fans launched a fundraising drive to ensure that there was enough money in the coffers to complete the signing. In addition, Schechter himself lowered his wage demands, which allowed Hapoel to seal the deal.
Schechter played for two years for Hapoel before being sold to German side Kaiserslautern in 2010. After two years in Germany he was loaned to English Premier League side Swansea City, where he made 18 appearances and scored one goal.
The deal between Schechter and Hapoel will see the player receive an incremental salary. In the first season, he will earn $350,000 − but only if his agent, Ronen Katsav, manages to reach an agreement with Kaiserslautern over the transfer fee.
The Germans wants Hapoel to pay the entire sum − which has not been made public − in one installment, which is not something the Reds can currently afford. Instead, Katsav and Hapoel are pushing for the payment to be made over two seasons.
Hapoel’s fans will foot some of the bill for the return of a player who scored 27 goals in 45 appearances for them. Last week, the club and fans reached an agreement over ticket prices for next season. They will rise 8 percent and the additional income will be used to fund the acquisition of Schechter and other players.
The Hapoel management recognized that re-signing Schechter, who has always been popular among fans, would increase the sale of season tickets and would send a message to their rivals that Hapoel is a serious contender for next season’s championship.
Schechter is Hapoel’s fourth signing in the month since the season ended, following the acquisition of American Bryan Gerzicich from Kiryat Shmona , Dutch center-back Jurgen Colin from Cypriot side Famagusta and Slovenian defender Branko Ilic, who also played last season in Cyprus, for Anorthosis. Coach Ran Ben Shimon is also reportedly interested in Ramat Hasharon striker Ran Yitzhak, who is expected to put pen to paper within a few days.