Black Aces of­fer was too good to turn down

CityPress - - Sport - TIMOTHY MOLOBI timothy@city­press.co.za

The for­mer own­ers of Mpumalanga Black Aces turned down two ad­vances be­fore ac­cept­ing John Comi­tis’ mouth-wa­ter­ing of­fer, be­lieved to be about R60 mil­lion.

Comi­tis has moved the club to Cape Town and it might be re­named Cape Town City.

City Press has learnt that they were first ap­proached by a con­sor­tium led by Gaut­eng Ed­u­ca­tion MEC Panyaza Le­sufi and again by an un­named Gaut­eng busi­ness­man.

“But we were not in­ter­ested in sell­ing,” in­sisted Mario Mor­fou.

In a wide-rang­ing in­ter­view this week at their of­fices in Mel­rose Arch Jo­han­nes­burg, the Mor­fou broth­ers – Mario and Ge­orge – broke their si­lence and in­sisted the of­fer was too good to turn down.

“If we didn’t ac­cept it, some­one else would have taken the money,” said Mario, ad­ding they knew of two club bosses who were will­ing to sell.

Last year, AmaZulu put in a mas­sive of­fer to pur­chase the club, but the deal was ve­toed by the league.

The broth­ers said they did not sell be­cause they were ex­pe­ri­enc­ing fi­nan­cial dif­fi­cul­ties in run­ning the club.

“We spent a lot of money in build­ing the team up to where it is. It’s an ex­pen­sive ex­er­cise to run a PSL club, but for­tu­nately we had spon­sors.

“The de­ci­sion we took is good for foot­ball. If we didn’t, we would have ne­glected the team and maybe it would have gone to rel­e­ga­tion.

“John was re­ally per­sis­tent and had to con­vince us as he re­ally wanted this. The deal came at the right time as we had just ex­panded other ar­eas of our busi­ness, which need us to be hands-on. But it was not an easy de­ci­sion to part with the club, which we owned since 2004.”

Mario played for Aces be­tween 1998 and 2000 and grew to love the brand. The duo said they came close to sell­ing in 2011 af­ter the death of their fa­ther.

“He died the same week­end we got rel­e­gated and that was too much to take. We wanted to sell then, but de­cided oth­er­wise, and pumped in money to make sure the team re­turned to the top league.”

They promised the peo­ple of Mpumalanga that their beloved Aces would be back.

“We still own the in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty of the club and the name is ours. Maybe we will come back in the fu­ture. We owe it to the peo­ple of Mpumalanga who have been there for us. We would not have made it without them.”

But they can­not have a club in the PSL or Na­tional First Di­vi­sion for 12 months af­ter sell­ing their op­er­at­ing li­cence, Ge­orge said.

The de­ci­sion to sell might have been tough, but the broth­ers said it was a blessing in dis­guise.

“To run a club, like any other big busi­ness, is not dif­fi­cult but time­con­sum­ing. We are hands-on in all our busi­nesses and we have a few on the go.”

They said they would still be in­volved in foot­ball through their de­vel­op­ment struc­ture. “We have one of the best youth struc­tures in Gaut­eng, which caters for kids be­tween five and 18. Last year, we won three out of the five leagues we com­peted in, and I can safely say the fu­ture looks bright. We are go­ing to put more ef­fort into this struc­ture for now and con­cen­trate on our busi­ness for at least a year or two and see what hap­pens next.”

They agreed to take care of the play­ers who were not part of the deal.

“We have re­tained the staff and we will also take care of the re­main­ing play­ers and try to place them as they still be­long to us,” said Mario.

PHOTO: SYD­NEY SESHIBEDI / GALLO IMAGES

CAPE BOUND Ju­das Moseamedi is one of the play­ers mov­ing to Cape Town

PHOTO: ANESH DEBIKY / GALLO IMAGES

BUSI­NESS DE­CI­SION Mario and Ge­orge Mor­fou have more projects on the go

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