Betar? It couldn’t be much worse

By Simon Griver, May 7, 2009

Struggling Betar Jerusalem could be given a lifeline after Brazilian billionaire Guma Aguiar started negotiations with owner Arkady Gaydamak to buy the club.

Set to go into administration next month, news of Aguiar’s proposal improved the mood in Jerusalem in a week when Uefa disqualified the defending Israeli champions from competing in Europe next season after they failed to provide the necessary financial guarantees. Betar have until next week to appeal by which time Aguiar, may have made his move.

Aguiar, 31, has been living in Jerusalem’s Yemin Moshe quarter since selling Leor Energy, the oil company he co-founded in 2003, for $2.5 billion.

Aguiar’s interest in Betar comes at the end of a week in which the club was docked a point and ordered to play their next game behind closed doors after anti-Arab chants during a league match. Betar had already been deducted two points for a pitch invasion at the end of last season but despite that are third in the league, seven points behind leaders Hapoel Tel Aviv and have reached the semi-finals of the state cup.

Gaydamak left Israel in November and is refusing to inject any more money into the club.

Last updated: 3:17pm, May 7 2009