Small town Club wins Israeli Championship

The Israeli Ligat Ha'al title goes in the 2011/12 season to minnows Hapoel Ironi Kiryat Shmona, a small North Israel border town club. Hapoel Ironi Kiryat Shmona confirmed their title on Monday by holding mighty Hapoel Tel Aviv to a goalless draw and are now 16 points ahead with just five matches to play.

In the Israeli league the championship for Hapoel Ironi Kiryat Shmona is a sensation then since 1991 the big four - Maccabi Haifa, Maccabi Tel Aviv, Hapoel Tel Aviv, Beitar Jerusalem - have won 20 of those titles amongst them. Only in 1999 Hapoel Haifa had broken that dominance.

Kiryat Shmona lies in the north of Israel just three kilometres from the Lebanese border. It is a town with a population of only 23,000 and it is best known for border shelling as it gets hit by rockets from across the border.

The journey for the football club Hapoel Ironi Kiryat Shmona started 12 years ago when businessman Izzy Scheratzky helped in the fusion of the towns two top clubs. Millionaire Scheratzky was ambitious and in 2007 the club got promoted to the premier division for the first time, only to be relegated a couple of season later. Thereafter the club decided to only work with local talent plus sign four foreigners and it worked as they regained their premier division status and now won the championship.

Now Hapoel Ironi Kiryat Shmona will play UEFA Champions League qualifiers next season and if they survive two rounds then they could face clubs like FC Barcelona or Real Madrid.

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