premiership: united to stay in pmb next season

2012-06-14 00:00

PSL football will remain in Pietermaritzburg next season. The news was confirmed yesterday after weeks of speculation had linked Maritzburg United with a permanent move to Port Elizabeth’s Nelson Mandela Bay stadium in a three-year deal worth R20 million.

The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality yesterday announced that the move had failed, and Team of Choice fans can now look forward to returning to Harry Gwala stadium when the new campaign gets under way in August.

In what appears to have been a misunderstanding of epic proportions between the Port Elizabeth council and the Nelson Mandela Bay stadium management, some council members were only made aware of the ongoing negotiations at a meeting yesterday.

Said Nelson Mandela Bay Executive Mayor Zanoxolo Wayile: “The R20 million matter has come as a shock. How could no one have known about it? Politicians often make the wrong decisions because officials give them the wrong information.”

United chairperson Farouk Kadodia echoed the concern that the council had not taken an active role in the negotiations.

“I requested that the matter be raised at full council level so that the offer from the stadium officials could be ratified and we could have council’s blessing,” he told The Witness yesterday.

“At no stage did we ever confirm that we were relocating to Port Elizabeth. Pietermaritzburg is our home and we have a brand to protect.”

Kadodia added that any further offers from Port Elizabeth would be taken seriously.

Stadium spokesperson Buli Ngomane said the agreement with Maritzburg United fell through because the team did not decide in time whether or not to move to PE.

“We remain committed to attracting a PSL team to the stadium in the future,” Ngomane said.

As part of the requirements for the new lease agreement between the stadium operator and the metro, the operator has to secure a PSL franchise.

Tony Lovegrove of PE’s only local football side, Bay United, who currently play in the NFD, said he hoped that part of the R20 million that was due to be spent on luring Maritzburg United would be used for the development of local soccer.

• sport@witness.co.za

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