Soccer / Press Leaks Lead to Bust Up of Keegan, Betar J'lem Talks

'Of course I'm angry,' former England coach says

Former England, Newcastle and Manchester City coach Kevin Keegan will not coach Betar Jerusalem.

Keegan was furious over last weekend's publication in Haaretz and the Sunday People about his talks with the club. Keegan told agents representing him in talks with Betar that the leaks to the press showed that the club's management is not professional.

"Of course I'm angry," Keegan said. "There were talks with representatives of the Israeli team. They had wanted to close a deal quickly and discretely, but then suddenly the whole thing appeared in the press. Both sides lost out, and that's a shame."

Following the report's publication, Keegan was flooded with phone calls from journalists from throughout the world.

The sides had been close to agreeing on Keegan's personal terms that are thought to be around $3 million a year. The former Liverpool star had said he would bring with him top-level European players willing to play in Jerusalem.

Keegan reportedly had agreed to come to Israel to sign with Betar after speaking with Betar owner Arcadi Gaydamak to finalize terms. However, following press reports about the discussions, Keegan's agent told Betar he was furious about the leak and no longer wanted any contact with the club.

Israeli player agent David Ben Abu, who was involved in the talks, said he had been shocked to hear that the negotiations had been leaked to the press.

"I couldn't believe it," said Ben Abu, who was behind the move of Tal Ben Haim and Idan Tal to English Premier League club Bolton. "He had asked for discretion, and he is sorely disappointed. I'm really shocked.

"The deal could have propelled Betar Jerusalem and Israel soccer light years ahead. Keegan is one of the greatest players of all time and a great coach. If a coach of his caliber had come to Betar, it would have made the club a household name in Europe."