Ajax Cape Town barred from playing Liverpool

2013-05-08 14:11

Organisers were scrambling to find new opponents for Liverpool on May 21 in Cape Town after local side Ajax were barred from playing the English Premier League club.

South African Premier Soccer League (PSL) official Derek Blanckensee told reporters today the friendly fixture at the Cape Town Stadium could not go ahead as the domestic season ends only four days later.

“We do not allow international club friendlies while the season is on, because it competes with our events and our sponsors. The PSL operates under a set of rules and the clubs are aware of it,” he said.

The South African Premiership concludes on May 18, but the season-ending FA Cup final between Kaizer Chiefs and Platinum Stars or SuperSport United will be staged seven days later.

While Ajax officials are hoping for a change of heart, Cape Town municipality official Grant Pascoe said new opponents would be found for five-time European champions Liverpool, if necessary, with a Cape Town XI a possibility.

“If the PSL does not change its decision, we have an alternative plan. Supporters should not worry, as we are continuing our preparations for the Liverpool friendly,” said Pascoe.

The municipality are part sponsors with Liverpool reportedly being paid a £1 million (R14 million) appearance fee for a game just 48 hours after their final Premier League fixture at home to QPR.

English Premier League football is hugely popular in South Africa, with most matches broadcast live, a 24-hour channel dedicated to the championship, and Liverpool and Manchester United the most followed clubs.

Ajax, whose squad includes former Liverpool goalkeeper Sander Westerveld, are battling to avoid relegation with two rounds left, but only a last-minute goal denied them a preseason victory over Manchester United last year.

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