Bay wants an­swers be­fore Celtic ‘deal’

The Herald (South Africa) - - Front Page - Rochelle de Kock dekockr@ti­soblack­star.co.za

Pre­mier soc­cer league out­fit Bloem­fontein Celtic must open its books for in­spec­tion be­fore the Nel­son Man­dela Bay mu­nic­i­pal­ity will even en­ter­tain sign­ing a deal with the club.

The Free State out­fit, which has re­port­edly been strug­gling fi­nan­cially, has flighted pro­pos­als to hold matches in the Bay – or even re­lo­cate to the city.

Act­ing city boss Nox­olo Nqwazi, who is also the Bay’s ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of sports, re­cre­ation, arts and cul­ture, said the metro needed an­swers, par­tic­u­larly around the fi­nan­cial health of the club.

This fol­lows a meet­ing between Celtic chair Max Tsha­bal­ala and some of the city’s po­lit­i­cal lead­ers – in­clud­ing deputy mayor Th­sonono Buy­eye, speaker Buyelwa Mafaya, the EFF’s Zilindile Vena and the Pa­tri­otic Al­liance’s Mar­lon Daniels – in late Septem­ber.

De­spite some of his col­leagues claim­ing he was at the meet­ing, Bay mayor Mongameli Bobani was adamant on Wed­nes­day that he had never at­tended any such gather­ing where Tsha­bal­ala had spo­ken of his wish to pos­si­bly move his club to the Bay.

Nqwazi, who along with direc­tor of sports Char­maine Wil­liams was also at the meet­ing, said Tsha­bal­ala’s pre­sen­ta­tion was a “he­li­copter view” of his hopes to have Celtic play in the city.

“He could not an­swer a num­ber of things that I would have wanted him to an­swer.

“He was not even sure if he wants to re­lo­cate or not.

“My first ques­tion to him was ‘do you want to re­lo­cate Celtic or do you want to play games at the sta­dium?’

“He was not sure.

“If you’re not sure if you want to re­lo­cate or play games, then you can’t come up with a fig­ure [of what you want from the mu­nic­i­pal­ity].

“Be­cause then your fig­ures are not based on any­thing tan­gi­ble,” she said.

“My other is­sue was that Celtic is a Bloem­fontein club and it’s well sup­ported – so why would you want to play games here when you have got a well-sup­ported club?

“And how are you sup­ported by the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment?

“To move or play else­where, there would have to be dis­cus­sion between the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment or prob­a­bly the lo­cal sphere.

“And the fact that they have a 2010 sta­dium like us, why would they want to re­lease Bloem Celtic to play else­where?”

Nqwazi said she had made it clear at the meet­ing that the mu­nic­i­pal­ity would have to en­sure there was due dili­gence and that all the in­for­ma­tion the city re­quired was made avail­able to it.

“When you want to play one game, you don’t have to come to the city, you just go di­rectly to the sta­dium [man­age­ment],” she said.

“But when you want to have an agree­ment with the city, that’s a dif­fer­ent ball game.

“I heard later they had a meet­ing with the sta­dium op­er­a­tors [the Man­dela Bay De­vel­op­ment Agency].

“While we were busy with that, we heard in the news that Bloem Celtic was [al­legedly] liq­ui­dated.

“We don’t do busi­ness with a com­pany that has been liq­ui­dated or is be­ing liq­ui­dated.

“We have sent ques­tions to Max Tsha­bal­ala, which have not been an­swered.

“The is­sue of the liq­ui­da­tion is a se­ri­ous is­sue to us, so un­til he re­sponds to those ques­tions, we are not do­ing any­thing.

“We want ac­cess to their fi­nan­cial state­ments. We are ask­ing a lot of ques­tions around the liq­ui­da­tion is­sue.

“But the MFMA [Mu­nic­i­pal Fi­nance Man­age­ment Act] does not al­low us to do busi­ness with them.”

Tsha­bal­ala de­nied re­ceiv­ing any cor­re­spon­dence from the mu­nic­i­pal­ity, say­ing the last he had heard from it was at the Septem­ber meet­ing.

“Noth­ing was sent on to us. I’m shocked that they are say­ing they asked ques­tions,” he said on Wed­nes­day.

Asked if the club had been liq­ui­dated, as sug­gested by some me­dia re­ports, he said:

“Stupid peo­ple will al­ways say stupid things. How, if a com­pany is liq­ui­dated, are they still play­ing games?

“How can a gov­ern­ment in­sti­tu­tion take me­dia re­ports?

“They must say which news­pa­per is that be­cause we don’t know noth­ing about it.”

He claimed that all the politi­cians and of­fi­cials at the meet­ing had ac­cepted his pre­sen­ta­tion un­con­di­tion­ally and his un­der­stand­ing was that they merely had to iron out the le­gal­i­ties.

“We were very ex­cited about it, but when the mayor, Bobani, started say­ing he doesn’t know about the meet­ing we had, we were con­fused.

“I think the mayor has am­ne­sia if he can for­get such a big thing in front of ev­ery­one.”

He said they had sub­se­quently had a meet­ing with the sta­dium op­er­a­tors, the Man­dela Bay De­vel­op­ment Agency.

He would not say if they wanted to re­lo­cate to the Bay or to move some of their home games.

The agency’s spokesper­son, Lu­vuyo Bangazi, said: “The MBDA is not en­ter­tain­ing any agree­ment or pro­pos­als from Bloem Celtic.

“Any news to the con­trary is the fig­ment of some­one’s imag­i­na­tion.”

Daniels, who ini­ti­ated Tsha­bal­ala’s meet­ing with the city, said he had en­cour­aged him to make a pre­sen­ta­tion to the city when they met up dur­ing a visit to the Free State.

They had started talk­ing foot­ball and the topic came up of how the Bay did not have “the glory of a PSL team” an­chored in Port El­iz­a­beth.

This, as Chippa United – which is a Nel­son Man­dela Bay Sta­dium an­chor ten­ant – has split some of its games between Port El­iz­a­beth and Buf­falo City.

“I said Nel­son Man­dela Bay is de­prived of qual­ity foot­ball be­cause Chippa can’t even fill up a sta­dium,” Daniels said.

“They have one foot here and one in Buf­falo City.”

He said he was im­pressed by all that Tsha­bal­ala said he would of­fer, such as coach­ing clin­ics, cur­tain-rais­ers and gen­eral foot­ball de­vel­op­ment.

Daniels said it was sad that Bobani was deny­ing be­ing at an “in­no­cent meet­ing”.

“I don’t know why he’s deny­ing it be­cause there’s noth­ing sin­is­ter. There was no de­ci­sion as to whether or not we will take them.

“The con­clu­sion was that Max must go back and bring a pre­sen­ta­tion with the amounts that he wants.”

MAX TSHA­BAL­ALA

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