As soon as it’s confirmed that Hapoel Ashkelon FC have avoided relegation from the Israeli Premier League I offer my assistant manager, Seb Rozental, a new contract.
The negotiations across the desk in my office aren’t difficult. He agrees to restrict his already-modest wage demands in return for healthy bonuses (a) staying up and (b) Euro qualification next season.
I copy the agreed terms to the club secretary, so that he can drop them into a formal contract, and then bring out two bottles of the Israeli sparkling chardonnay that Seb’s developed a liking for. It’s the one kind of wine that he admits Israel does better than his native Chile.
One’s to take home, I say, and one’s for drinking now. Let’see if we can find some colleagues to share it with. In the event, all the Head-ofs and Chiefs – Nimni (Youth Development), Eitan Sharon (Sports Science), Moshe Valency (Data Analysis), Nissan Kapeta (Scouting), and Guy Morag (physio) – showed up, plus Doc Peres, so it was as well that I’d brought in a third bottle, just in case.
I propose a toast ‘to Premier League football 2017-18’.
‘Not Euro qualification first?’ says Sharon. I like Eitan: I like that he likes keeping on keeping on.
‘If you’d like to propose that toast,’ I say, ‘I’m sure we’ll all raise a glass to it’.