A home-grown Jewish footballer playing in the Premier League could soon be a reality after double hopefuls Arsenal this week initiated a partnership with the JC MSFL to become a feeder league for the north London giants.
The collaboration, initiated by Alan Sefton, Arsenal’s head of football in the community, was given the green light after a series of meetings between Maccabi officials and representatives from the Emirates club for whom former vice-chairman David Dein is believed to have been a key player.
Two seasons ago Dein and Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger watched part of a Maccabi League game near Dein’s home in Mill Hill, North London. Sefton is believed to have suggested using the league to unearth young talent in a bid to appease fans who want to see a more prominent English playing contingent at the club. At present, Theo Walcott and Justin Hoyte are the only English players that get a game for the Gunners. The move is similar to the partnership between Manchester Maccabi and Manchester City.
With more than 1,200 players from the UK involved on a weekly basis, the JC Maccabi (Southern) Football League is the biggest all-Jewish league in the world. Chairman David Wolff told JC Sport: “This is a very proud day for the league. It is about time our players were recognised as we are much more than a Sunday morning set-up.”
Leading lights including North West Neasden’s Matt Stock and Daniel Cole appear the strongest candidates to make the initial pool of players. Sefton said: “Arsenal are big fans of the Maccabi League. We believe that some players in the league have the ability to go further and with a little nurturing and the right coaching we can help them fulfil their dreams.”
Chelsea were believed to have also been interested in the scheme with chairman Roman Abramovich, manager Avram Grant and players Tal Ben Haim and Ben Sahar at the club. Simon Greenberg, the club’s Communications and Public Affairs Director, is another factor as he used to play for Neasden, but the centrality of Arsenal’s ground in the borough of Islington made them a more attractive proposition for the league.