Sagesse agreement reached, team ready to turn over new leaf

Two players left the Green Castle during the controversy, but the club retained most of its key team members.

BEIRUT: After a mediated session over the weekend between rival Christian parties vying for the leadership of basketball club Sagesse, an initial solution has been reached. The meeting was held Saturday at the Maronite archbishop of Beirut’s residence, where the Lebanese Forces’ Imad Wakim met with rival Ziad Abs of the Free Patriotic Movement, and Bishop Boulos Matar served as mediator between the two.

The settlement stipulates that both contending parties withdraw all lawsuits filed against each other and facilitates the return of businessman and former Sagesse President Henry Chalhoub. Chalhoub will take the reins of the club again, with three of the total seven members in the new administrative committee affiliated with him.

Abs, the FPM’s representative, is said to have understood and accepted the terms of the meeting under one condition: no one from the old committee would return. Additionally, Abs’s side would be unwilling to fund the team, leaving that responsibility to Chalhoub and Wakim.

The Green Castle have already incurred several lawsuits from last season that prompted legal authorities to freeze their administrative committee. Since the legal mishaps, Sagesse has gone through a difficult period which disrupted the solidarity and cohesion of the squad.

Sources told The Daily Star that the situation has now taken a “positive” turn and that the settlement would satisfy all parties involved. The same sources added that things would be made 100 percent clear within the next 24 hours.

Should the conditions agreed on in the meeting be implemented smoothly, Sagesse will end this chapter of one of its worst crises in the team’s 70-year history. The tussle and its political nature had caused considerable controversy within the club.

Not only did fans disagree with one another, but the external issues also affected the players. The club faced the prospect of losing a dream team with the potential to bring back the atmosphere of the glory days.

Two of the players have already left the team: Mohammad Ibrahim moved to Byblos and Charles Taber has become a free agent.

Sagesse’s key players remain in their green shirts though, with Rodrigue Akl, Julian Khazzouh, Philip Tabet, Elie Rustom, Elie Stephan and Patrick Bou Abboud all staying with the team. With a possible solution in sight, having lost few players and retaining renowned coach Fouad Abou Chakra at the helm, Sagesse has the potential to turn the tables and begin their new season in a better position than they were in when they ended the last one.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on September 23, 2013, on page 13.




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