More stadium controversy

2019-08-06 16:14
Athlone Stadium.

Athlone Stadium.

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The Athlone Stadium has fallen into more controversy following the announcement by the City of Cape Town that it will host the PSL fixture between Cape Town City FC and Stellenbosch FC on Saturday 10 August.

This is five days earlier than the proposed completion of scheduled maintenance which commenced in May.

Earlier this year, People's Post reported on the closure of the stadium, which was tabled to be completed by Thursday 15 August and that tenants had to be evicted in order for the City to comply with safety regulations.

"The City needs to complete necessary alterations to ensure the stadium retains its grading certificate status in terms of the safety at sports and recreational events act (SASREA) No 2 of 2010," said the City's executive director for economic opportunities and asset management Kelcy le Keur at the time.

The PSL fixture was originally slated to take place at Cape Town Stadium, however, the City announced in a statement today (Tuesday 6 August) the 2010 World Cup facility would not be ready in time to accommodate the fixture.

"A traction test was conducted on the Cape Town Stadium pitch yesterday, 5 August 2019. Unfortunately, it was found that the pitch is not ready yet, following major corrective maintenance that was carried out over the past few months," read part of the statement, which adds that the maintenance is part of a three-year cycle at the venue. 

According to the City’s CEO for the Cape Town Stadium, Lesley de Reuck, Cape Town Stadium hosted 36 events during the last season, which also necessitated the maintenance, which started in May with the removal of the top 15mm of the pitch and replaced by lightly compacted sand layer.

"It was found that additional Netlon, a subsurface netting that contributes to the stability of the pitch, also had to be added. The pitch was then fumigated and had to lay dormant for 21 days before the grass could be sowed on 20 June," read the statement further.

“We gave it as much time as possible as we wanted the grass to grow and strengthen. Unfortunately, the grass has not knitted sufficiently and can pose a danger to the players. Thus, the difficult decision was made to move the match to the Athlone Stadium,” said De Reuck. 

Cape Town City FC chairperson John Comitis has expressed his anger and dissatisfaction with Cape Town Stadium management in a statement posted on Twitter.

"This is yet another negligent and careless undermining of professional football in Cape Town by the Cape Town Stadium management," Comitis said in the statement.

He adds the club has a "multi-year" contract with Cape Town Stadium, now in its fourth year. 

"It is no secret that the league season starts each year in August, and the home opening game against Stellenbosch had been booked and agreed in advance between both the club and the city’s venue.

"As early as June, the club stressed the importance of the opening home fixture being at Cape Town stadium, raising concerns over the surface after various non-sporting events such as Monster Trucks had been accepted before the start of the season.

"However, we were assured the pitch would be ready. It’s not."

Comitis went onto stress that other events are held at the stadium throughout the year, but go ahead unaffected, but City had to have one of their fixtures moved to Durban "because of the mismanagement of Cape Town sporting venues."

Read more in the next edition of People's Post on Tuesday 13 August.


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