R200?000 for Bucs game gets red card

2010-02-12 00:00

A REQUEST to channel more than R200 000 of council funds towards next week’s match between Orlando Pirates and Maritzburg United FC (MUFC) drew fierce criticism from some opposition members during yesterday’s sitting of council’s executive committee (Exco).

Deputy municipal manager for community services Zwe Hulane said last weekend’s official hand-over of the Harry Gwala Stadium was extremely successful and the television coverage the city received boosted its profile immensely.

“PSL matches were identified as forming a core of the city’s drive to attract more people in the build- up to the World Cup in June, and an opportunity to host a team of Orlando Pirates’ calibre in the city will certainly add value in the city’s 2010 programme,” he said.

Hulane said his unit already has a 2010 programme in place and a budget of R935 217 has been set aside for it.

DA councillor Bill Lambert said: “This is another example of money I don’t think should be invested. We should not be sponsoring a football club. We should be saving as much as we can because we’re in a compromised position [financially].”

Lambert said he is worried that if the budget is approved, more requests like this will be received in the future.

Hulane said the municipality is not looking at sponsoring every game, only the forthcoming one, because Orlando Pirates are a big team who will attract large numbers to the stadium.

“We’re not sponsoring Maritzburg United. It’s us building towards the World Cup and seeing an opportunity for the city to make its presence felt. We had budgeted for it … we’re just asking that the budgeted funds be released,” he said.

DA councillor Rodger Ashe said he was in agreement with Lambert and Orlando Pirates are not the only big team.

“So are Chiefs and Sundowns. Everything we do is World Cup [orientated]. I don’t think other cities keep sponsoring soccer. There’s a very strained financial situation in the city at the moment and we need to do away with fancy things that are not necessary,” he said.

Marketing and communications manager Brian Zuma said MUFC indirectly assisted in promoting the city through media coverage, free marketing and the top-class football they brought to locals.

ANC councillor Themba Zungu said that when R10 million was requested for the funding of the BMX bike championships over a three-year period, there were no objections.

“Is there any BMX champion that we sponsor here? We need to be very careful. I don’t think if it was cricket or rugby there would be complaints,” he said.

ANC councillor Patrick Moon said: “The DA has a strange way of supporting things. They mustn’t stop us promoting 2010. Every opportunity we get to market ourselves we should use.”

ANC councillor Henry Ngubane said he is surprised that Exco is debating something that was already budgeted for. He said the city needs to be seen to be doing something to promote sport and help keep the team in the PSL.

“Most [MUFC] players come from other cities, so we need more locals in the team. In the long run the city will benefit,” he said.

 

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