‘Blame city, not United’

2016-05-26 11:55
Maritzburg United players arrive at the memorial service for Mondli Cele at the Life Bible Church International. Cele was killed when his car crashed into the Dusi River on Sunday morning.

Maritzburg United players arrive at the memorial service for Mondli Cele at the Life Bible Church International. Cele was killed when his car crashed into the Dusi River on Sunday morning. (Ian Carbutt, The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - Executive members of Maritzburg United were welcomed with applause at yesterday’s Msunduzi full council meeting following the club’s much-needed win in Potchefstroom last weekend.

However, the hype was short-lived when the club’s spokesperson, Brian Zuma, told council that recent reports claiming the club had not fulfilled their promises, were the municipality’s fault.

Zuma referred to the club’s request last week to have five buses transport supporters to Potchefstroom at the council’s cost.

“The reports implied that the quote was given by us and this is not true. The quote for around R500 000 for buses was sourced by the municipality,” he said.

Zuma added that the delay in United fulfilling their promise to build RDP houses in Imbali was also the municipality’s fault. “Council won’t attest to this, but the municipality is holding us back from building the RDP houses. I want to clear that up as it is not the club which is not complying,” he said.

Zuma’s comments were not up for discussion by councillors, and he was swiftly moved along to discuss his presentation.

He presented the club’s plan for their performance next season, in which he promised that United would be in the top eight of the Premier Soccer League (PSL).

“I can promise that we will be in the top eight and in at least one cup final,” he said.

Zuma said they would grow their support base and, after last weekend’s game, “we have seen the crowd support”.

“The first season of the partnership was very successful, with spectator support improving from an average of 3 000 to 7 500. In the last three or four games, spectator support increased to an average of 8 500,” he said, adding that more youth and women were attending the matches.

The club plan to also increase their marketing and corporate social responsibility activities, he said.

He shared the club’s vision to have 50% of players in Maritzburg United’s first team from Pietermaritzburg.

Msunduzi Mayor Chris Ndlela congratulated the team on their important win, saying the 10 minutes in which United scored three times last weekend were “10 minutes of brilliance”.

“This is not just about the money, but first-hand experience. I find spectators of all racial groups sitting side by side at Harry Gwala and that speaks volumes,” Ndlela said.

He said the city benefited from the partnership with the exposure the club received.

DA councillor Bill Lambert questioned Zuma on United’s next season, asking if he could assure the city of a better performance.

Zuma repeated the promise that the club would be in the top eight and play in at least one cup final.

• kailene.pillay@witness.co.za

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