Take the money and walk

In the wake of the pro­posed Thanda Royal Zulu sale to AmaZulu, Ti­mothy Molobi looks at the fi­nan­cial costs of run­ning a club

CityPress - - Sport -

From play­ers’ salaries to spe­cial projects, the costs of run­ning a club for­ever es­ca­late while the own­ers watch help­lessly. That is, clubs con­tinue to strug­gle fi­nan­cially un­til a good Sa­mar­i­tan comes along with a good of­fer. City Press has learnt that the sky­rock­et­ing costs of run­ning a club could ren­der some club bosses bank­rupt and take them out of busi­ness. In fact, many will con­sider sell­ing if they get of­fers. It costs about R3 mil­lion ev­ery month to run a suc­cess­ful club, mean­ing own­ers have to dig deeper into their pock­ets to sup­ple­ment the R1.5 mil­lion monthly grant from the Pre­mier Soc­cer League (PSL).

It is even worse for Na­tional First Di­vi­sion clubs as they only get R350 000.

It should not come as a sur­prise that, af­ter los­ing mil­lions try­ing to gain pro­mo­tion to the Pre­mier­ship, most club bosses will not hes­i­tate to sell their as­sets and re­coup the money – just like Thanda Royal Zulu has done.

While the bulk of the bud­get is spent on the play­ers, there are other hid­den costs that also need tak­ing care of.

It is es­ti­mated that play­ers’ salaries can amount to about R1 mil­lion ev­ery month and that an­other R1 mil­lion goes to­wards the tech­ni­cal team. Clubs also have to bud­get for trav­el­ling, ac­com­mo­da­tion, ad­min­is­tra­tion costs, fa­cil­i­ties and spe­cial projects.

Af­ter ev­ery month-end, club bosses in­vari­ably count their losses.

Only four clubs – Kaizer Chiefs, Or­lando Pi­rates, Su­per­Sport United and Ajax Cape Town – have spon­sors, and two – Mamelodi Sun­downs and Bid­vest Wits – are bankrolled by own­ers with fi­nan­cial mus­cle.

Clubs such as Chippa United and Mthatha Bucks have to travel out­side the East­ern Cape ev­ery se­cond game, mean­ing their costs are higher than most of the other sides.

“It is a real strug­gle and sup­port­ers do not un­der­stand. I don’t blame those who want to sell be­cause I’d rather re­coup the money and walk away,” said one club owner, who did not want to be iden­ti­fied.

The club boss painted a sorry pic­ture of run­ning a club in the coun­try.

“Ev­ery se­cond game, you are on the road, which means you have to bud­get for air travel and ac­com­mo­da­tion. For ex­am­ple, when we travel to away games, we have to pay for at least two nights of ac­com­mo­da­tion.”

For­mer Dy­namos boss Pat Mal­a­bela has one sim­ple piece of ad­vice for club own­ers: “If a good of­fer comes your way, take the money and walk away.”

Mal­a­bela, who sold his Pre­mier­ship sta­tus to AmaZulu for a re­ported R41 mil­lion in 2006, said this with­out even think­ing twice.

“I was bank­rupt when I sold my club. I didn’t even hes­i­tate be­cause it was an easy way out, oth­er­wise I’d have drowned in debts.”

Mal­a­bela doesn’t beat about the bush, say­ing most club bosses are swim­ming in debts but are afraid to ad­mit it.

“I know what I’m talk­ing about be­cause I was there and ex­pe­ri­enced it first hand. Al­most 90% of them are bank­rupt, but they can’t come out in the open both in the First Di­vi­sion and Pre­mier­ship.”

He says he might not know ex­actly what was in their pock­ets, but the signs were there for ev­ery­one to see.

Mal­a­bela says he is not surprised that most own­ers will not think twice if a good of­fer comes their way.

“Foot­ball is a very good pro­mo­tional item to net­work and be vis­i­ble. When you see some­thing from far, it is al­ways greener. Then you get there and you re­alise it is not what you ex­pected. This was my ex­pe­ri­ence in foot­ball.”

He reck­ons lo­cal foot­ball is not yet looked at as a busi­ness, so it strug­gles to at­tract spon­sor­ships.

“I might be wrong, but it is dif­fi­cult to get an over­draft from a bank as these banks don’t trust us.”

Free State Stars gen­eral man­ager Rantsi Mokoena says it costs about R3 mil­lion a month to run a suc­cess­ful club.

“A nor­mal team needs about a min­i­mum of R3 mil­lion to sur­vive, and that’s still a tight bud­get.”

Stars were al­most sold last sea­son, but the deal fell through at the last minute.

Mokoena paints a gloomy pic­ture for clubs that run with­out spon­sors.

“The econ­omy needs to im­prove and cor­po­rate South Africa needs to be in­volved. How can the PSL be in the top 10 in the world, but clubs strug­gle to at­tract spon­sors?” asks Mokoena.

“What are all these big com­pa­nies do­ing in the coun­try if they can­not come to the party? For any com­pany to sur­vive in the coun­try, its prod­uct must be con­sumed by 80% of the pop­u­la­tion, but we are not get­ting any­thing in re­turn.”

Act­ing PSL chief ex­ec­u­tive Mato Mad­lala also ac­knowl­edges the chal­lenges to run­ning a club and says they al­ways pray for a sea­son in which clubs do not pull out.

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