| JERUSALEM, July 4
JERUSALEM, July 4 Former Israeli cabinet
minister Haim Ramon took control of Hapoel Tel Aviv soccer club
on Wednesday and said a consortium would pay off outgoing owner
Eli Tabib to leave the club.
Tabib took ownership of Hapoel last season after a battle
with a partner which led to a court awarding him the outfit. But
he found no love among the club's supporters, who said he did
not have the club in his heart and they vowed to make him leave.
Ramon, a well-known Hapoel supporter and a member of the
centrist Kadima party, expressed a similar sentiment when
telling a news conference in Tel Aviv that Tabib would be paid
12 million shekels ($3 million) to leave the club.
"(The transfer of ownership) is signed and agreed by Eli
Tabib. It was a clear and unequivocal condition and he is
therefore no longer connected and will not be connected to
Hapoel Tel Aviv," Ramon said, who declined to state who was
"I am responsible for the club, I am responsible for raising
the money...I am responsible that Eli Tabib will not return to
the club because he cannot, according to all the legal
understandings (of the deal). But there is no reason for anybody
here to know who has given me the 12 million," Ramon added.
Hapoel have been one of Israel's most successful clubs in
recent years both at home and in European club competitions
and,despite the acrimony between Tabib and many of the club's
players and the fans, they finished as league runners-up and
completed a hat trick of State Cup wins last season.
One supporter of Hapoel, whose traditional colour is red and
which had originally represented Israel's labour movement,
expressed the sentiments of many fans when he said the club had
regained its freedom.
"Happy independence day to the red family, I feel today we
have regained our freedom," supporter Bernardo Gal told Channel
(Writing by Ori Lewis; Editing by John Mehaffey)