Kick Off

TOP CLUBS TO DISAPPEAR FROM THE PRO RANKS

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ARCADIA SHEPHERDS

Formed in 1903, the Pretoria-based side perhaps had their heyday in the 1960s and 70s, winning a domestic treble in 1974, but also picked up trophies well into the 80s. After formation of the National Soccer League in 1985, they continued to compete in the rival National Profession­al Soccer League, which they won in 1992. They hit hard times financiall­y and their status was sold for a rebirth of Dynamos in Lenasia in 1990.

BIDVEST WITS

One of the saddest tales ever told in South African football was the cut-price sale of BidVest Wits to the owners of TTM in

May 2020. Within six months the new owners had sold the status again to what is now Marumo Gallants. Wits would have celebrated their centenary in 2021, and won the domestic league as recently as the 2016/17 campaign. Former players and administra­tors are trying to revive a Wits University in the amateur ranks, but it will not be the same entity.

BLOEMFONTE­IN CELTIC

Another recent casualty of the status sale rules in the PSL is the demise of the once great Celtic, an institutio­n in Bloemfonte­in with some of the best fans in the country – if not the very best. Their top-flight franchise was bought by the owners of Royal AM, who could not win promotion by convention­al means. An amateur team lives on in the ABC Motsepe league as Bloemfonte­in Celtic, but once again it is not the same club.

DURBAN CITY

Like Arcadia, City were a stalwart of the white’s only league, but also had some success once multi-racial football was born. They won back-to-back NPSL titles in 1982 and 1983, but within five years the club had been disbanded. The club was sold to a group of local businessme­n in 1988, and changed their name to Natal United. But they were relegated at the end of that season after winning only four of their 34 games and never seen again.

HIGHLANDS PARK

Highlands Park continued their trend of winning promotion to the top tier and then offloading their valuable status, the latest occasion to former player intermedia­tory Tim Sukazi and his TS Galaxy outfit in 2020. It was the third occasion they had done so, leading to the rise of both Jomo Cosmos and Silver Stars in the other two. Highlands are back in the amateur ranks, but don’t discount another rise to the elite league … and another sale.

MANNING RANGERS

Rangers were the inaugural Premier Soccer League champions in the 1996/97 season, storming to the title under coach

Gordon Igesund. They continued to be a force in the top division with a number of top five finishes, but once Igesund left it started a slow slide and the team were relegated via the play-offs in the 2004/05 season. They later filed for bankruptcy and sold the second-tier status to Fidentia Rangers.

MOROKA SWALLOWS

It is a common misconcept­ion that the Swallows FC which is currently campaignin­g in the DStv Premiershi­p is the same entity as the more famous Moroka Swallows, who had been among the leading clubs in the country for many decades. The original Moroka Swallows now plays in the amateur ranks. The club dropped out of the top-flight in the 2014/15 season and then suffered back-to-back relegation­s the following year.

MPUMALANGA BLACK ACES

Mpumalanga Black Aces had been a popular feature of the top-flight under the Morfou brothers, George and Mario, though they did flit between the second-tier and the elite league. The Morfous decided to get out and sold their top-flight status to former Ajax Cape Town chairman John Comitis, who created Cape Town City in 2016. Black Aces were the latest incarnatio­n of Ukhumba Black Aces, Witbank Black Aces and Super Kurl Aces, having been formed in 1937 by dairy workers.

PLATINUM STARS

The Royal Bafokeng Nation had been owners of Platinum Stars since 2007 and enjoyed some good times with Dikwena, most notably their MTN8 and Telkom Knockout victories in 2013. But financial woes meant they were looking to dispose of their asset by the 2017-18 season, which also coincided with the club’s relegation from the top-flight. A consortium led by then coach Roger de Sa purchased the club and their now second-tier status and renamed the team Cape Umoya United and then later just Cape United. They had hoped for promotion back to the elite league, but after three seasons of failing to do so, sold their status to the Venda Football Academy.

SANTOS

Cape Town club Santos were arguably the leading side in the country in the early 2000s, winning the league title in 2001/02 and picking up the country’s FA Cup in 2001 and 2003, to go with the BP Top 8 in 2002. No other team enjoyed such success over that period. They were relegated to the second-tier in the 2011/12 season, and later the ABC Motsepe League, where they currently campaign. They did reach the Last 32 of the Nedbank Cup in 2022 as a reminder they are still around.

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