Jonty Mark
Football Editor
3 minute read
30 May 2017
9:57 am

Buying statuses is not playing the game

Jonty Mark

As romantic as Cape Town City's season has been, there is still one small gripe, for me, with a club that has burst so impressively onto the scene, capturing the Telkom Knockout and finishing third in the Absa Premiership in its fledgling season in the top flight

Roger Sikhakhane of Thanda Royal Zulu FC surrounded by happy players after winning during the National First Division game between Thanda Royal Zulu and Stellenbosch FC at Umhlathuze Sports Complex. (Gerhard Duraan/BackpagePix)

That lies in the club’s origin, the franchise of MP Black Aces bought at the end of last season by John Comitis and moved to the Mother City under its new name.

This matter of Premier Soccer League club franchises being bought up and switched from place to place is, to me, an utter nonsense, and a serious blight on a Premier Soccer League that wants to be taken seriously. But it happens all-too frequently.

The latest mooted purchase is arguably even more of a farce, with AmaZulu, as our story opposite discusses, in negotiations to buy the franchise of Thanda Royal Zulu and return to the Premiership next season.

Thanda, of course, won the National First Division this season while AmaZulu finished fifth, missing out on the play-offs by two points. If the deal with Thanda is approved by the PSL, however, no matter, Usuthu can play in the top flight. Fans are entitled to ask what exactly the point was of even playing an NFD season, in this situation. It is beyond a joke. The origin of Thanda is actually a laughable string of country-wide club purchases, that perfectly highlights the farce of a PSL franchise.

Hellenic FC was bought from its Greek owners by the Ndlovu family in 2004 and moved to Benoni where they were called Benoni Premier United. Benoni Premier United were then purchased by a consortium in 2007, who took the club to KwaZulu Natal and named it Thanda. Now Thanda’s owner Pierre Delvaux looks set to be the latest owner to sell on, with AmaZulu seemingly eyeing a way back into the big time.

There are rumours that another Absa Premiership side, Free State Stars, could also sell up – they already came close to doing so last season, when a consortium failed in a bid to buy the club in the name of Moroka Swallows.

Their issue appears to be the financial difficulty of running a club in the Absa Premiership, which raises another issue. Are Stars not running their club properly, that they are having money troubles? Or does the league not do enough, even with its grants, to help sides stay afloat?

There does seem to be an abundance of money for the PSL’s executive committee, with all these sponsorship deals, and it certainly does not reflect well on the league, if clubs are having to sell up.

Only clubs with proper independent financial backing, like Mamelodi Sundowns, Bidvest Wits, appear to be truly thriving, and in these circumstances it is perhaps not as surprising that a club with a fresh injection of cash like City has done so well.

City and Wits dominate Phakaaathi’s seasonal awards on Page 8, where our writers give their verdict on what has gone right for them in 2016/17.

We also speak to Sifiso Hlanti on his rise at Wits and with Bafana Bafana, and we wrap up Amajita’s rather disappointing campaign in the Fifa Under-20 World Cup.

Thabo Senong’s side did well to qualify for the tournament, but once they were there they paid the price of not taking most of the opportunities that came their way.