Press ‘drank Avram’s blood’, claims wife

The Jewish Chronicle - - News - BY SI­MON GRIVER ANDDANNYCARO

FOOT­BALL BOSS Avram Grant was back in Is­rael this week con­tem­plat­ing his fu­ture as his fam­ily claimed a race-hate cam­paign cost him his job at Chelsea.

His fa­ther, Meir Granat, blamed the club’s bil­lion­aire owner Ro­man Abramovich for cav­ing in to ex­ter­nal pres­sures to get rid of him. “Abramovich was prob­a­bly in­flu­enced by the an­ti­semites and could not stand the pres­sure of the neg­a­tiv­ity against Avram,” he said.

Mr Grant’s wife, Tzofit, in­sisted: “We’ve had a lot of sup­port in Eng­land. Not only from the Jewish com­mu­nity but the en­tire English com­mu­nity. It’s only the press that have been drink­ing his blood.”

The nor­mally talk­a­tive TV pre­sen­ter greeted all other ques­tions with long si­lences, adding only: “The chil­dren will re­main in Lon­don un­til the end of the school year. They are at a won­der­ful Jewish school which has re­ally given them a lot.” She de­clined to name the school “for se­cu­rity rea­sons”.

On Tues­day, Mr Grant was seen lunch­ing with lawyer An­thony Julius in Rafael’s restau­rant in Tel Aviv’s Ha­yarkon Street. Mr Julius, whose firm Mis­chcon de Reya ne­go­ti­ated Mr Grant’s con­tract at Chelsea, told an Is­raeli re­porter that he would be rep­re­sent­ing him in sev­er­ance talks, even though the ex-Chelsea boss had ear­lier said he would ne­go­ti­ate with the club.

How­ever, Is­raeli lawyer Ye­huda We­in­stein, a friend of both men, said Mr Julius was in Is­rael visit­ing his chil­dren, two of whom live in the coun­try.

Sources close to Mr Grant in­sist he felt be­trayed by Mr Abramovich and bluntly re­jected his £2 mil­lion-a-year of­fer to re­turn to his job as tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor and will pur­sue the big­gest sev­er­ance pay­out he can get.

Chelsea say that they will hon­our the terms of his con­tract, which in­cluded a sev­er­ance clause — be­lieved to be six months’ wages, around £1.2 mil­lion.

The source also con­firmed that Mr Grant was un­happy with the man­ner of his de­par­ture. A source close to the for­mer Is­raeli na­tional team boss said: “Avram feels very hurt, up­set and an­gry. He said he doesn’t trust them any more. It was not a friendly meet­ing at all. Avram does not want any­thing to do with the club now. He didn’t even want to dis­cuss his com­pen­sa­tion, which will run into mil­lions. He told Ro­man to speak to his lawyer.”

M i l l i o n s o f Is­raelis have fol­lowed Mr Grant’s Chelsea ca­reer since he re­placed Jose Mour­inho last Septem­ber. One-and-a-half mil­lion watched the team’s Euro­pean Cham­pi­ons league fi­nal de­feat live on TV last week, even though it was screened at 12.45am.

Even Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ehud Olmert weighed in, say­ing: “He brought a lot of re­spect to the Is­raeli peo­ple.”

Avi Co­hen, chair­man of the Is­raeli Pro­fes­sional Foot­ballers As­so­ci­a­tion, said: “It’s very, very un­fair, par­tic­u­larly be­cause of his suc­cess. John Terry should have scored the penalty, Chelsea would have been cham­pi­ons of Europe and Avram would have stayed. You can’t blame Avram Grant be­cause John Terry missed a penalty.”

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