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Israeli football club stake sale to UAE sheikh halted

Jerusalem (Agencies): Israeli football club Beitar Jerusalem has frozen a sale to an Emirati royal family member citing “bureaucratic reasons,” an Israeli daily said. A sale of publicized 50% stake to Emirati royal Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Nahyan has been canceled, The Times of Israel reported late Thursday citing an Israeli Football Association committee.

“Beitar confirmed that it had officially asked to withdraw its request [to the Transfer Committee of the Israeli Football Association] to approve the deal, but said the sale has just been postponed, not canceled altogether,” the Israeli daily said. The deal was crippled by more documents being required by Israel’s football association from the Emirati royal member regarding his businesses.

An investigation into the sheikh’s capital showed the possibility of a “significant gap” with its real value, prompting more documents for clarification. According to the investigation, Al Nahyan reportedly “owns dozens of inactive firms and is allegedly connected with businessmen involved in fraud and money laundering,” the Israeli daily said.

Attributing that the delay of the sale was due to bureaucratic reasons, the club said late Thursday: “Following the request of the Transfer Committee for more documents and in the hope of advancing the deal, the owner of the club, Moshe Hogeg, had intended to take off for Dubai in order to meet with Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Nahyan.”

However, that was not possible due to travel restrictions as Dubai Airport remains closed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Instead of asking for another extension we preferred to withdraw the current request and submit a new request,” the Israeli club said denying that the deal “fell through”.

Al Nahyan vowed to pump $90 million into the club in the coming 10 years for an investment deal that was slammed by the club’s anti-Arab fans.

On Sept. 15, the UAE agreed to establish full diplomatic, cultural, and commercial relations with Israel after signing controversial agreements at the White House.