Haim Ramon and a group of his associates met yesterday with the Israel Football Association's ownership oversight committee, seeking to finalize the terms of the deal that will see them take over the club from its present owner, Eli Tabib.
The committee, including the IFA's legal advisor, attorney Moshe Aviv, and its ombudsman Ofer Orlatzki, received clarifications from Ramon regarding his business plan for the club, and expressed optimism that the process will be completed soon. However, they demanded that the new owners insert "two amendments to the request to transfer the rights that will fit the accepted outline of such deals."
Ramon is expected today to serve a new request - including the amended clauses - in the hope that the committee will quickly approve the transfer of the club's managements rights to him.
"There'll be a real mess if Hapoel isn't transferred by tomorrow," Ramon said on leaving the meeting. "I can't see a scenario whereby it doesn't happen, because otherwise it will be a total catastrophe. I have no doubt that I will become the owner. I outlined the details of the deal to the committee. As I said: I am the owner, I am the one responsible for the money."
Hapoel Tel Aviv fans yesterday launched a non-profit association called "The Reds" (Ha'adumim ), through which team supporters will have an opportunity to purchase a share in the club for the minimal price of NIS 500. The association's founders hope to raise money from the team's large fan base, with a target of NIS 6 million, which would allow the fans to assume 50 percent ownership of the club and become full partners in its management.
"I'm confident that the fans' association will be a senior partner in the club's management, because I have already said that without the fans the team has no right to exist," said Ramon.
"Eight months ago we set out to save the club," said Nimrod Buchman, one of the association's founders. "The first stage was to remove those who harmed the club [a reference to Tabib] and now starts the second stage, which is taking responsibility for the club. This is an historic opportunity that will not be repeated. We believe that through the association we will manage the club with a long-term outlook. We have reserved the 1,000th share for [singer and Hapoel fan] Arik Einstein, because he said he supports the idea."
Once they have raised the sum, the fans intend to buy a percentage of the club's ownership, with representatives of the association being appointed to the club's board of directors. This would make them full partners in decision making.
Attorney Michal Rozenboum, who is advising the association, added that "it is important that the fans have the power of veto, which will give us a chance to determines what happens in the club."
Morris Jano, a former Hapoel Tel Aviv star player, also supports the association. "This club has no right to exist without the fans," he said yesterday. "The fans can march Hapoel onward to higher levels."