Money talks, but not to everybody

2014-05-17 00:00

IT has been a week of crisis for Maritzburg United. The club’s most valued possession, coach Steve Komphela, has been so heavily linked with a lucrative move to Chippa United that it seems impossible for the saga to end any other way. Where there is smoke, and all that.

Losing Komphela would be a massive blow to the Team of Choice. Successful sporting franchises need big characters. In Komphela, United have one of the biggest in the local game. They had another in club captain Michael Morton, but with the inspirational midfielder off to SuperSport United, the Midlands lads face a daunting start to the 2014/15 campaign without any stand-out leaders if Komphela departs.

Whether Komphela goes or not — the constant chopping and changing of statements has actually left a feeling of seasickness — the events of the week have illustrated something interesting about transfer deals and contracts in the PSL. Money, as they say, talks.

But it does not talk enough in this country’s footballing circles in the sense that how it is distributed is always kept a secret.

This week, we were told that Komphela was being offered something “crazy” from Chippa; a figure approaching the salary bracket that Pirates, Chiefs and Sundowns bestow on their mentors. But how much is that exactly? The Komphela saga has highlighted a wall that divides what happens inside of a football club and what is revealed on the outside. Not that we should compare leagues, but that certainly doesn’t happen in England. Much of what happens at the football club — from wages, transfer fees and club investment — is made public for the fans to digest, and as a result the supporters feel part of the club.

“I can’t believe we’re paying him that much” or “He was far too expensive” are not opinions or conversations that South African football fans will ever get the chance to have.

There are always ways and means, though. Sources within the club and player agents are sometimes inclined to part with information of a financial nature. But it is never official. The clubs and the PSL won’t confirm anything.

We don’t know, officially, who the most expensive player in the history of South African football is. Or, officially, who the highest paid player in the country is. And while knowing these facts is not essential — the football should always be the major talking point — they lend an element of intimacy to the act of supporting a team.

As it stands now, numbers are thrown around like confetti, and nobody actually knows anything for sure. It leads to irresponsible journalism and exaggerated assumptions.

By yesterday afternoon, Maritzburg were still standing firm that Komphela was their coach, while Chippa had gone quiet and Komphela remained unreachable.

If the coach wasn’t going anywhere, then why hasn’t he publically committed his future to Maritzburg yet? It appears to be a matter of “when” and not “if”. Money, once again, rules the day.

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