FC AK booted from final

2008-05-01 00:00

National First Division Inland Stream winners FC AK have been booted out of the NFD to the Vodacom League (second division) for bribery, and will not contest the play-off final with Coastal winners Maritzburg United.

In a drastic sentence clearly aimed at setting an example FC AK owner Azziz Kara was yesterday also banned from soccer for 30 years, and fined R500 000.

The bad news for United, who have already waited three weeks to play in the play-off final for promotion to the Premier Soccer League since the Coastal Stream ended on April 12, is that the final will now be delayed. United chairman Farouk Kadodia received a fax from the PSL yesterday evening saying the play-off final has been suspended.

FC AK have seven business days to appeal their sentence and guilty verdict, or the matter can go to arbitration within 72 hours. This means the earliest the first leg of the play-off is likely to be played is on May 17.

The management committee of the PSL met last night to discuss the way forward now for the play-off final, with the likelihood that second-placed Inland Stream team Dynamos will be United’s opponents. The committee will make a recommendation to the league’s national executive committee, which meets today.

Kadodia said last night the club is still hopeful of being promoted straight to the PSL by default.

"FC AK never had points deducted, they were booted straight out of the league, so why should the second-placed team take their place in the final," the United chairman reasoned.

In a statement released by the PSL yesterday, chief executive Kjetil Siem was quoted as saying: "On behalf of the league I am glad this type of action is taken very seriously by the DC. Of all possible negative actions in our industry this [bribery] is bottom line."

Kara was alleged to have offered Mpumalanga Black Aces goalkeeper Michael Babale R20 000 to a throw a game against AK. Last season AK controversially sold half their squad midway through the first division season.

United coach Ian Palmer, meanwhile, faces a difficult task keeping his players match sharp for the delayed final. The team hit a peak at the end of the season, winning their last four matches to run out Coastal Stream victors.

United were to play FC AK in Johannesburg on Saturday in the first leg of the play-off final, and the second leg was at Harry Gwala Stadium next Saturday.

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