FS government throws clubs a lifeline

2017-05-17 06:02
From the left are Rantsie Mokoena (Free State Stars marketing manager), Ace Magashule (premier), Samuel “Max” Tshabalala (Bloemfontein Celtic chairman) and Mathabo Leeto (MEC for Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation).Photo: Teboho Setena

From the left are Rantsie Mokoena (Free State Stars marketing manager), Ace Magashule (premier), Samuel “Max” Tshabalala (Bloemfontein Celtic chairman) and Mathabo Leeto (MEC for Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation).Photo: Teboho Setena

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The Free State Government has offered R4 million to Bloemfontein Celtic and Free State Stars to relieve their financial burden. Each team received R2 million.

The clubs were presented cheques on Monday, 8 May, at a function held in Bloemfontein.

The much-needed money comes ahead of the teams’ wrap-up of the 2016/’17 Premier Soccer League (PSL) season on 27 May.

Presenting the cheques, Free State Premier Ace Magashule said the decision to fund the two premiership clubs was part of the provincial government’s programme to sustain and support sport and development.

He said the Free State government strongly believed that sport had the capacity to unite people and foster social cohesion.

“We are investing in the future of this province. We are going to invest more in sport, particularly football, because it is the biggest investment for attracting tourism. Celtic and Stars hoist the flag of the province very high. We are as proud of their achievements as the Free State Cheetahs. We offer Free State Rugby assistance worth R5 million, so R2 million is not a lot to Stars and Celtic,” said Magashule.

He said the decision to financially aid the two clubs had been taken into consideration as private companies were reluctant to give support to football unless they received something in return.

Stars still has no financial sponsor after the deal with a medical aid provider expired at the end of 2015/’16. Celtic has a sponsorship with MTN, which is due to expire.

Magashule said funding the two senior football clubs would further enable them to continue developing prospective future players who will able to ply their trade locally and internationally.

In line with international prospects, Magashule said an agreement to engage Celtic and Stars had been signed with Porto FC Academy.

“Porto FC Academy is ready to work with them for coaching and they are studying their case,” he said.

Both teams have welcomed the gesture, with Rantsie Mokoena, Stars marketing manager, and Samuel “Max” Tshabalala expressing appreciation.

“We thank you very much for this gesture. It is about you giving us hope when it looked so hopeless, it is not about money,” said Tshabalala.

“This is not the best of times in terms of the two clubs’ future in the premiership, because they are fighting to avoid relegation. This gesture will go a long way in enabling us to compete against the so-called best in the country.

“We have been struggling financially without sponsorship, which is key in enabling us to pay salaries for the players,” said Mokoena.

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