A day after it took a giant step ensuring its survival in the Premier League, Hapoel Tel Aviv appears to be on the verge of civil war, with a power struggle brewing between most board of directors members and chairman of the board MK Haim Ramon.
The conflict focuses on the direction that the club will take over the next few months - a period that is likely to be vital to its long-term success.
Ramon favors businessman Jackie Ben Zakan to run the club, while board and business community members insist that he is not the right man for the job. Instead, they argue that Hapoel must complete a move already begun and bring in one of Europe's richest men, Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich. As early as next week, a delegation of senior businessmen, including Lev Leviev and Motti Orenstein, will travel to London to meet Abramovich. Those close to the delegation believe that Abramovich will agree to help fund the squad with the hope that it will enable Hapoel to compete against league leader Maccabi Haifa and Maccabi Tel Aviv next season.
If the deal falls through, Ramon would probably close a deal with Ben Zakan that primarily has been thrashed out over the past few weeks. It is already clear, for example, that if Ben Zakan takes over, he would bring in Yossi Mizrahi as coach, who served as Ashkelon coach, while Alon Hazan would serve as assistant coach.
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