Nov 16, 2014
Billionaires' Bid Had 1 Condition

Chabad supporters Sonny Kahn and Russell Galbut were bidding on the Hapoel Tel Aviv football team but had one essential condition.

By COLlive reporter

Ain't gonna play on Saturday...

The Hapoel Tel Aviv Soccer (Football) Club, the legendary team which has the highest rank among all Israeli clubs, has agreed this past month to stop playing on Shabbos.

Meeting with the team's board of directors, its largest share-holder Haim Ramon lobbied for the approval of the decision which would have sealed the deal on the sale of the team.

"If the team is not bought, it will disintegrate and crash," he warned, noting that the decision will also have to be discussed with television networks that air the home matches at Bloomfield Stadium.

Not playing on Shabbos was the condition presented by potential buyers Sonny Kahn and Russell Galbut, owners of Crescent Heights, one of the largest real estate brands in the United States known for building luxury apartments.

The negotiations played out over the month of Tishrei, during which time the Miami-based billionaires and donors to Chabad causes were in Israel. "Rabbis pressured me not to do this deal," Kahn was quoted after spending Yom Kippur in Jerusalem.

While the owners and even the TV network agreed to the deal, it was Hapoel's general manager Eyal Berkovic who was unhappy about the prospect of two religious Jews taking control.

"Clearly these people were not suited for Hapoel. We'll find another buyer," coach Berkovic, a former footballer known for his temper, was quoted as saying in October.

The team's downfall, and subsequent collapse of the deal, didn't take long to happen.

A game between Hapoel and Maccabi a few weeks later on November 3, had to be abandoned during the first half after players and fans began fighting on the field.

"Israeli soccer experienced one of its saddest days at Bloomfield Stadium on Monday night," the Jerusalem Post lamented.

Berkovic himself commented: "This was not a game of soccer, it was war. I'm stunned and ashamed to be involved in football on a day like today."

Last week, Kahn and Galbut dropped the team like a hot potato, saying they weren't interested anymore in purchasing Hapoel. Israeli press cited the violence at the game as the main reason.

Nevertheless, the two funneled a 1 million Shekel donation (approximately $261,967) as a sign of good will. Hapoel responded kindly and sent a letter of thanks to Kahn and Galbut.

"The club thanks Sonny Kahn for his contribution," it wrote. "Hapoel Tel Aviv sees Khan as a true friend of the club and is confident that the relationship with him will continue and be strengthened in the future."

"The group hopes to see Khan at one of its games this season, if he comes to Israel," Hapoel added.

So long the game will not be scheduled on Shabbos, obviously...

Russell and Ronalee Galbut being honored with the "Leadership by Example Award" at the Colel Chabad International Awards Dinner in 2013

Most Read Most Comments
The game that turned violent and ruined the deal
The game that turned violent and ruined the deal

Opinions and Comments
i dont understand
did they buy the team or not? did they stop playing on shabbos or not? if they did,,, GO HAPOEL!!
(11/16/2014 10:00:46 PM)
Deal fell through. They still play on shabbos.
(11/16/2014 11:16:11 PM)
I million dollars???
For a "donation" to a soccer team? My kids need Chabad Houses. I wish they would have gotten such a gift.
(11/17/2014 8:17:17 AM)
to number 3 chill out
its 1 million shkel

(11/17/2014 9:27:54 AM)
To #s 3&4
It was a business investment. They give plenty of $ to charities, including Chabad.
(11/17/2014 11:04:46 AM)
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