Beitar Jerusalem: The Situation
Since the appointment of the legendary Uri Malmilian as manager of Beitar Jersualem, many Beitar fans have reason to hope that the upcoming season won’t be a failure after selling off Barak Itzhaki and possibly other important players. I don’t know the extent of Beitar’s debts or even who owns the club, as this is very complicated. Officially Arkadiy Gaydamak is still the owner of the team according to the IFA, but is not involved with the running of the club. Since Beitar’s main sponsor of last season, Guma Aguiar, has been out of the picture, Beitar has been looking for ways to cut costs and generate revenue. This has come in the form of selling Barak Itzhaki for Two million USD and getting rid of his wages. Next on the list is young playmaker Idan Vered, who is on the verge of being sold to Maccabi Haifa for One million USD. If this transaction goes through then Beitar will have raised Three Million USD in a relatively short period of time. Kudos to chairman Itzik Kornfine for keeping the club afloat. Right back Eliran Danin has also been let go on a free transfer. In addition all three foreign players from last season have been released, thus further cutting costs. Kornfine has also been looking for a buyer for some time, but has been unsuccessful.
What is the solution to this problem of non-exsistent ownership and poor cash-flow?
I would suggest that Kornfine could possibly turn to Beitar’s die-hard fans for a solution. Some football clubs are fan owned and Kornfine could sell annual memberships just as clubs like Barcelona do. Lets suppose that Beitar could do this and sell annual memberships to 10,000 members at a cost of 500 NIS each. This amount is five million NIS every season that Beitar could generate theoretically if such a proposal were to happen. In return for their dues club members would be able to elect the club leadership and receive discounts off of tickets, and other special perks that could be decided later on. This revenue along with generated ticket revenues and royalties from the IFA and participation in European competitions would surely make Beitar Jerusalem a juggernaut once again in Israeli football. The German Bundesliga runs a similar model with all of its clubs and requires at least 51% fan ownership in the clubs. Thus guaranteeing financial stability and making it the most profitable and best run football league in the world. I certainly hope that Beitar goes in the direction of member ownership, but I am not optimistic that this will happen. However I do believe the club will continue to exist, but will be unable to mount any challenge for the title despite having the largest fanbase in Israel.