United fans will be disappointed by decision to move Bucs semi-final to Durban

2010-11-11 00:00

FANS of Maritzburg United who were hoping to watch their team play their Telkom Knockout semi-final against Orlando Pirates at Harry Gwala Stadium will be disappointed, with the Premier Soccer League yesterday moving the match to Chatsworth Stadium.

The PSL cited safety concerns for the move. Harry Gwala Stadium holds a capacity 12 000 crowd for PSL games after safety restrictions and the league was concerned that the semi-final will draw big interest from both Pirates’ and United’s supporters in the midlands region.

The match will be held in Chatsworth on Sunday, November 21. The first semi-final between Chiefs and Santos will be played at Peter Mokaba Stadium on Saturday, November 20.

United were disappointed by the decision not to play the game in Pietermaritzburg given that they have already successfully hosted category A matches in the city, including against Chiefs, who have a bigger support base than Pirates.

The club also sent a letter to the PSL from the Pietermaritzburg SAPS, stating that there would be “sufficient capacity of SAPF and relevant stakeholders to police the forthcoming match”.

The league, however, made their decision based on the advice of Pretoria’s Visible Policing Division, which highlighted risk factors at Harry Gwala as insufficient parking, space for a ticket checking search zone away from the turnstiles, space for the VOC personnel and limited access routes to the stadium.

United chairman Farouk Kadodia said these issues were all debatable. But the chairman accepted the final decision made by the league.

“We have successfully held category A matches at Harry Gwala against Pirates and Chiefs where the match commissioner gave us glowing reports,” Kadodia said.

“When the announcement was made on the field after our 2-0 win against Mamelodi Sundowns on Sunday that United would have a home game, the reaction of the crowd was wonderful. Now those fans will be disappointed.

“We are a small club who are trying to lure a sponsor, and cup success could help us in that aim. But now we have lost our home ground advantage.”

In a statement yesterday, PSL CEO Kjetil Siem said Harry Gwala was deemed unsuitable based on the new Safety at Sports and Recreational Events Act.

“The newly promulgated … Act determines that the PSL require police clearance for all A-grade matches,” Siem said.

“This new act puts huge responsibility on the organisers and whether we like it or not, there is no other option than to follow the authority’s recommendation.”

Moses Mabhida is unavailable for the semi because it is having a cricket pitch installed for a Proteas T20 match against India.

 

Telkom Knockout semi-finals

Saturday, November 20: Kaizer Chiefs v Santos, Peter Mokaba Stadium, 8.15 pm

Sunday, November 21: Maritzburg United v Orlando Pirates, Chatsworth Stadium, 3 pm

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