Empty stands as Celtic fans stage a stay-away

2010-12-12 15:38

A behind-the-scenes row involving Bloemfontein Celtic and its ­defunct supporters’ national ­executive committee is the reason attendance has dwindled at their home ­matches recently.

The club has accused the ­disbanded structure of being the problem behind the fans’ boycott.
An estimated 3?000 fans ­witnessed Celtic’s 1-0 league win over Santos at Seisa Ramabodu Stadium two weeks ago.

The club said the committee had become “unreasonable in their ­demands” and that had prompted the Free State powerhouse to close it down.

“We disbanded the committee about two months ago and they speak on behalf of a few thousand of our fans,” said Celtic communications manager Petros Augousti.

“The NEC made unreasonable demands. They wanted to be an ­independent body and also ­demanded to be part of the ­decision-making on matters like the appointment of coaches and even team selection.”

In its response, national supporters’ chairperson Konstable ­Selebedi, who “resigned” from the committee on November 14, has counter-accused the club of “dividing the fans”.

“We are today divided and categorised around personalities – some are called Konstable people and others are calling themselves owner Jimmy Augousti’s people,” ­Selebedi wrote in his resignation speech.

He also gave an account of some of the events that led to the ­tension between the two warring parties.

“On August 15 we had our first supporters’ public meeting, where we met with Jimmy and Ikie Augousti to deal with all matters concerning the club.

“To our surprise, Jimmy ­informed the supporters that he did not recognise us on the basis that we wanted to be independent; it is not something coming from us as the committee.”

Selebedi added: “The supporters’ administrator was served with a letter from Celtic’s lawyers ­instructing us to close shop and ­vacate the club’s offices.”

Celtic have cautioned that they are not going to be threatened by their fans’ stay-away.
“Celtic supporters are our most important commodity and we ­intend to resolve the issues. We are not going to be threatened by the current scenario.

“At the moment the club is trying to come up with a new model that will be more ­under control,” said Augousti.

Ironically, the club were unbeaten in their past three matches at home despite the fans’ stay-away and they ended November with 10 points from five matches.

“Siwelele” will face Vasco da Gama in their next home fixture on ­December 19.

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