The Israel Football Association has said it will not take part in the 2018-19 Tel Aviv Football Association season.
The announcement comes a day after Tel Aviv’s local newspaper, Yediot Ahronot, published an article about Tel Aviv and the team’s potential playoff berth.
Television station Ynet reported that the Tel Aviv FA, led by Yossi Melnikov, had reached an agreement with the Tel Leva Foundation, an association of football clubs, to host the Tel-Aviv team for the 2018 Tel Aviv Premier League.
The club will play in the Israeli second division, which will be relegated to the second tier of the country’s football league next season.
The move is a major blow for Tel Aviv, whose only club is the Israeli Super League.
“We are very sad about this news,” Ynet quoted Tel Aviv FC president Shlomo Givat as saying.
“Our aim is to make Tel Aviv the best soccer team in the world.”
Melnikov, a former Israeli Prime Minister, is currently serving a prison sentence for fraud and corruption.
The Tel Aviv-based newspaper said Melnikov’s association had also been approached by the Israel Football Federation to join the Tel Aviv team.
Givat said the Telaviv-Tel Aviv connection was not a secret and had already been discussed with the team.
“We have already discussed it with the head of the Tel Azion Foundation and with the club’s owners,” he told The Times of Israel.
“It is true that we have been negotiating with the association for several months and have reached an arrangement with them.
We will not participate in the TelAviv-Israel Football League (TFL) season, because it is not in our interests.”
Melnikos foundation, which has been active in Tel Aviv since its founding in 2013, has a board of directors, but does not have an official representative on the Tel Levy Foundation’s board.
The Tel Aviv league, which began in 2017, is the second-tier of the Israeli Football Association, which was launched in 2007.
The league currently consists of 20 teams in seven divisions.