| JERUSALEM, April 15
JERUSALEM, April 15 An Israel Football
Association appeal court on Sunday deferred a three-point
deduction against Premier League strugglers Maccabi Petah Tikva
until next season, easing their relegation plight.
Last week a lower tribunal docked the club three points and
suspended a player and a coach as punishment for an on-pitch
brawl that broke out following their 2-1 league win against
Hapoel Haifa on March 31.
The decision means Petah Tikva will start next season with
minus-3 points. The club argued that the original punishment was
unfair because it directly influenced the relegation battle and
the deduction had pushed them into the drop zone.
The appeal court said that in coming to its decision, it had
taken the club's good disciplinary record into account.
"Undoubtedly, the small number of the club's previous
offences should be considered when weighing the severity of
punishment," the judges said in their ruling.
Petah Tikva were also ordered to play their next home game
at a distance of at least 50 kilometres from their home base. A
fine of 25,000 shekels ($6,666) they incurred was left in place.
In last week's ruling, the court also suspended three Hapoel
Haifa players after the ugly scenes led to Haifa striker Ali
Hatib being head butted by Petah Tikva goalkeeping coach Ami
He was barred from all soccer activity for 18 months, while
Petah Tikva midfielder Danny Parda was banned for three matches.
Haifa said Hatib had briefly lost consciousness and had
required hospital treatment.
Hatib and Haifa team mate Stefan Dankovic were banned for
three matches. A third Haifa player, Gal Erel, was banned for
two matches and the club was also fined 25,000 shekels.
($1 = 3.75 shekels)
(Writing by Ori Lewis; Editing by Alastair Himmer)