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Nov 8, 2005

Hapoel Petah Tikva owner fires coach and chairman

JERUSALEM, Nov 8 (Reuters) - Hapoel Petah Tikva coach Rafi Cohen and chairman Gavri Levi were dismissed by club owner Ronen Elad on Tuesday after a poor run of results that has seen the Premier League club slip into the relegation zone.

Cohen, who took over at the start of the season, is the third coaching casualty of the current campaign. Petah Tikva, who have won only once this term, are second from bottom in the 12-team standings with five points from eight matches.

Elad said he was frustrated by the Cohen-Levi partnership, which had failed to deliver suitable results, and immediately named Nir Levin as the club's new coach.

'I gave the keys to Gavri and to Rafi and decided to take a back seat hoping to enjoy the journey but we entered a cul-de-sac and in such situations I realised there was no choice and I had to take control,' Elad told a news conference.

He wasted no time in appointing Levin, a former Israel striker and Petah Tikva stalwart, until the end of the season. It is Levin's fourth stint as coach of his boyhood club.

'I was not surprised with the decision, in the current atmosphere at the club, it was inevitable and it usually leads to the dismissal of a coach,' Cohen said.

He added it was no secret that he and the outspoken Levi, the former chairman of the Israeli FA, did not get on.

'It's true that there was no chemistry between Gavri and me, but his comments in the media created a negative atmosphere and negative momentum,' Cohen said.