Fallen Swal­lows could soon fly again

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

The next three months will be crit­i­cal for the re­vival of Moroka Swal­lows.

This is ac­cord­ing to Panyaza Le­sufi, the Gaut­eng education MEC and a staunch Swal­lows sup­porter, who is lead­ing a team to res­cue and re­po­si­tion the fallen gi­ants.

Le­sufi said they have al­ready started with a con­sul­ta­tive process to pave the way for­ward.

The Dube Birds have been rel­e­gated for the third sea­son in a row. Af­ter their lat­est show­ing, Swal­lows will cam­paign in the fourth di­vi­sion – the SAB Re­gional League – next sea­son.

Although they will hon­our their obli­ga­tions in the lower di­vi­sion, City Press has learnt that a new Swal­lows could be born in the near fu­ture.

A highly placed source said Swal­lows’ demise was a bless­ing in dis­guise.

The source said The Birds could fly again un­der another name – Swal­lows FC. This is one of the pro­pos­als from the peo­ple who want to re­vive the club.

The source said they had iden­ti­fied four clubs – two from the Pre­mier­ship and two from the Na­tional First Di­vi­sion – that are will­ing to sell their sta­tus.

He was con­fi­dent of The Birds’ res­ur­rec­tion.

“Down with the old, and for­ward we go,” he said boldly.

How­ever, Le­sufi was cagey about their plans. He said they did not want to go through the same or­deal they went through last sea­son when their bid to buy Free State Stars failed.

“We learnt our les­son from that episode, and we do not want to rush into some­thing and burn our fin­gers again. But we are hope­ful about the fu­ture,” said Le­sufi.

He said he would use the present schools hol­i­day to try to tie up the loose ends.

“There are a few op­tions when it comes to own­er­ship, but we want to make Swal­lows the first club to be owned by sup­port­ers. It looks im­pos­si­ble, but any­thing is pos­si­ble. It won’t be easy, but we are de­ter­mined to re­vive the club in what­ever for­mat.”

He said that what scared peo­ple was the mas­sive debt that the club had.

“The last time I counted, the club owed in the re­gion of R197 mil­lion, if you in­clude pen­sion funds, owed salaries and sign­ing-on fees, SA Rev­enue Ser­vice pay­ments, rental and a whole lot of other things. But we are speak­ing to in­flu­en­tial peo­ple and things look promis­ing.”

Le­sufi said one of the chal­lenges the club faced was that Fifa wanted to dis­solve the side, while other peo­ple wanted to liq­ui­date it.

“The club’s bank ac­count was frozen, of­fices were locked as they owed rent, staff and play­ers were not paid their salaries and there were lead­er­ship chal­lenges as well.

“There are many is­sues, hence it is im­por­tant to con­sult so we can get a con­sen­sus on the way for­ward, be­cause some peo­ple might feel other­wise. We need to check the le­gal con­se­quences of every­thing,” he said.

Swal­lows will cel­e­brate their 70th an­niver­sary in Oc­to­ber and or­gan­is­ers are rac­ing against time to re­vive the club be­fore the big day.

PHOTO: SYD­NEY MAHLANGU / BACKPAGEPIX

HALF MAST Ed­win Si­tay­tayi of Moroka Swal­lows and his team­mates have been rel­e­gated once again. But a team is work­ing on re­viv­ing the side

PHOTO: AUBREY KGAKATSI / BACKPAGEPIX

OP­TI­MISTIC Panyaza Le­sufi

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