Teams: Beitar Jerusalem, ISRAEL NT, Inter Milan,
Gadymak does not care
Gaydamak: Beitar can drop to third division for all I care
By Gil Shefler
Beitar Jerusalem boss Arcadi Gaydamak is so fed up with his club that he's considering cutting off its funding and letting it be demoted to the third tier as punishment for its failure to meet his expectations.
This is his message in an astonishingly outspoken and critical interview in Maariv yesterday, in which he also said he was betrayed by his country.
"Instead of calling it Beitar Jerusalem we'll call it Beitar Gaydamak," he said. "Maybe I'll sell it and maybe I'll keep it on a minimal budget and let it be relegated two leagues."
The Russian-born businessman who bought Beitar three seasons ago and poured money into it brought home two championships. But he now says he doesn't care about Beitar supporters and that if he could he would bar them from entering Teddy Stadium, the club's home grounds.
"The fans don't interest me, don't you get it? None of them interest me," he said. "If I could I'd prevent them from entering Teddy Stadium."
In recent months Gaydamak has frequently expressed dissatisfaction with Beitar, particularly after its failed bid to qualify for the Champions League that ended in a 5-0 debacle against Polish underdog Wisla Krakow. The team also started the season poorly in the Premier League.
Rumors concerning the curtailing of his involvement or possible departure from the club have been widespread for some time.
Yet the Maariv interview represents a seemingly irreparable split between Gaydamak and Beitar and a striking contrast from the proud owner who only last year sat alone in the stands when the club's fans were barred from attending a match. He braved Jerusalem's winter cold and waved a big Beitar flag for the whole game.
"It's my club," a much-changed Gaydamak said in the recent interview. "It's Gaydamak's club only. It doesn't belong to anyone in this country, only me."
Gaydamak's change of heart may have much to do with his business interests, which have been hit hard by the global financial crisis and a string of bad investments. In addition, his political aspirations were stung when only 7,500 people voted for him in the Jerusalem mayoral election last week.
The businessman punctuated his message yesterday with harsh criticism of Israel and its citizens.
"I'm here now because I chose to be here, but perhaps tomorrow or in a week I won't be here," Gaydamak said. "This country betrayed me and my family and, most of all, my Jewish values."