Utter shambles of their own making

Tendai Ndoro (Chris Ricco/BackpagePix)

Tendai Ndoro (Chris Ricco/BackpagePix)

The shambles that is the curious case of Ajax Cape Town and Tendai Ndoro took another twist yesterday as a Judge Denise Fisher overturned Advocate William Mokhari’s decision to relegate the club to the National First Division.

What is left is a situation where nobody really knows if the 2018/19 Absa Premiership season will start on time, because of a case that has been handled in a poor manner by all parties involved.

Ajax Cape Town, for starters, should have known the Zimbabwean striker had already played for two teams in the 2017/18 season when they signed him in January. In effect, they should not have signed Ndoro at all, because he was not eligible to play for them, according to Fifa rules. Even if he does not admit it in public, Ajax’s owner Ari Efstathiou mus be ruing a decision that has to have already cost him plenty in lawyers’ fees and court costs.

Ndoro, too, should really have been aware of a situation that has done his career path no favours at all. Now released by Ajax, it remains to be seen where he ends up next season.

The Premier Soccer League, meanwhile, were forced to appeal a decision by its own Dispute Resolution Chamber in early February, after they decided that Ndoro was cleared to play for Ajax after all. The matter was then sent to Fifa, and their Player Status Committee, but apparently it was sent in a matter that was unsatisfactory to the world footballing body, who simply sent the decision back to South Africa’s footballing authorities.

All this meant that at the end of the season the South African Football Association ruled that Ajax were relegated, with Advocate William Mokhari docking them points for fielding Ndoro. The matter was far from over as Ajax moved to overturn this decision, and Judge Fisher yesterday ruled that only Fifa’s PSC can decide on Ndoro’s status.

There are innocent parties in this matter, meanwhile. Black Leopards are entitled to feel seriously aggrieved if, indeed, the decision to declare the play-offs invalid is upheld. Lidoda Divha won those play-offs and are entitled to feel they deserve a place in next season’s Absa Premiership.

Could it be that the PSL ultimately decide to expand the league to 18 teams for next season, to include Ajax, Platinum Stars, Black Leopards and Highlands Park? That would certainly be a huge stroke of luck for Stars, or Cape Umoya United FC, as we must now call them, who were first automatically relegated, then lost in the play-offs, and have now effectively been automatically relegated again.

The fall-out also goes further than this, meanwhile, with the MTN8 needing to be rescheduled, as AmaZulu now qualify in terms of Fisher’s ruling, with SuperSport United falling back down the table.

Whatever happens at the end of all this, it does not reflect well on a league that too often falls short of its well-marketed image, both in the standard of play on the field, and the way it conducts its affairs off it. It is hoped a fast resolution is found, but the way events have carried on thus far, this seems unlikely.

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