Cape’s big chief approves of Amakhosi games in the city
AJAX CAPE TOWN remain undeterred in their opposition to Johannesburg-based Kaizer Chiefs’ proposal to play three of their home games at the Cape Town Stadium.
Yesterday, mayor Patricia de Lille held a press conference to announce that she will support the Soweto club’s desire to play in the Mother City. While official approval for the proposal still has to come from Council, De Lille’s support means that it is a mere formality.
“The City of Cape Town is committed to creating a vibrant, inclusive space for all its residents, sporting codes and cultures. We also have a responsibility to make the Cape Town Stadium a financially viable venue. I have, therefore, supported an event proposal for Kaizer Chiefs to play three of their home matches during this season at the Cape Town Stadium,” said De Lille in her official statement.
“This event proposal will be tabled at full Council and for final approval, and I will recommend that we approve Kaizer Chiefs hosting Wits on December 19, Platinum Stars on January 24 and SuperSport United on February 20.
“The proposed agreement forms part of a one-year contract, with an option to cancel or renew for a further two years. We have a duty to use our stadium to promote public events that are for the benefit of the people of Cape Town.
“Nothing will hinder Ajax Cape Town from playing their home matches at the Cape Town Stadium, in line with the three-year agreement they have signed with the City.
“We will also continue to support local clubs as we have done for years. We live in a diverse city and it is only right that we form partnerships with stakeholders that reflect this diversity and that provide opportunities to use our beauti- ful stadium.”
Ajax chief executive Ari Efstathiou says he will convene an urgent meeting today with his club’s management staff to decide on their next step.
“The issue here is that, right from the very start to the present time, the City has never been truthful with us,” said Efstathiou. “Yes, we have a three-year deal with the City, but we will now be reviewing our position.
“I guess if the City feels it wants to support an outside club, it can do so – but to say that they support local clubs, that I find quite strange. Speak to any of the clubs in the Cape and you will get a different answer.
“Also, we cannot see the financial viability of the Chiefs deal. We have asked the City to show us on what grounds the deal is financially viable, and they still haven’t been able to do so.”
Santos chairman Goolam Allie was as disappointed. “I think the Mayor’s decision is based on a rather narrow way of thinking and it’s an indictment on all the football clubs and footballers in the Cape,” said Allie. “All in all, it sums up the general attitude the City has towards local football.
“If this is the way they want to save a white elephant stadium, then they aren’t going about it the right way. Think about it… what will three Chiefs home games do towards the overall viability of the Stadium? Nothing…”
As for Chiefs, they aren’t concerned about the controversy their presence here has created. They are just concerned about building their brand.
“We are excited,” said Chiefs’ marketing director Jessica Motaung when she met with Independent Media journalists yesterday. “We have lots of support in Cape Town. We have 40 active branches in the city and, whenever I meet with them, there is an outcry that we should play more games in the Cape.
“The plan forms part of the club’s strategy to bring the team closer to its loyal supporters in the Cape and to grow its national fan base.”
When asked about the current controversy, Motaung said: “I was shocked… But I think that perhaps something good can come of it. Whatever the issues are between local football clubs and the City, perhaps now is the time for introspection. There’s an opportunity to fix whatever the problems are.
“It’s time to stop the fighting and collaborate. The parties need to sit around a table and plan how they can take football in this city forward. And we are hoping that our presence here can encourage the growth of football in the Cape.
“It’s time to stop the anger and the negativity, and use us to do something positive for football in the Cape. Just as we hope that, by being here, we can inspire youngsters to continue to take up football as a sport, and then go on to play for the local Cape clubs sometime in the future.”