Eagles, Uthongathi finally back on field

Uthongathi players, including Cheslyn Jampies (left) and former Pirates midfielder Issa Sarr (far right), during training this week Picture: Supplied/Twitter
Uthongathi players, including Cheslyn Jampies (left) and former Pirates midfielder Issa Sarr (far right), during training this week Picture: Supplied/Twitter

The dust seems to have settled in the ownership debacle involving NFD sides Royal Eagles and Uthongathi FC, clearing the way for the two clubs to open their GladAfrica Championship campaign.

Both clubs are behind by two games compared with their competitors, as they have been idle for two weeks.

The PSL was forced to postpone fixtures involving the two KwaZulu-Natal-based clubs because of separate legal issues involving ownership complexities within their stables.

The Pietermaritzburg High Court settled the matter – involving the potential sale of Uthongathi after the co-owners challenged it – this week.

At the heart of Eagles’ conflict was the highly publicised bitter divorce between Sbu Mpisane and his estranged wife Shauwn, who allegedly tried to change the name of the club, a move the PSL rejected.

It is alleged that Shauwn tried to buy Uthongathi, but did not succeed.

However, Mpisane managed to retain the Eagles and there have been sweeping changes at the club, and 18 players were registered with the PSL on Friday.

Joel Masutha, who was in charge of the team’s preseason training, has been replaced by Mncedisi Sibiya as head coach.

Big-name players, including Edward Manqele and Moeketsi Sekola, were among the many who were released from the club.

When contacted for comment, Mpisane Mpisane referred City Press to the club’s newly appointed general manager, Richard Makhoba, who said: “It was an internal issue that needed the intervention of the league [PSL]. Yes, it had to do with the ownership problem, but I can’t comment much on that because it is a sensitive matter involving the Mpisane family.”

He confirmed the changes in personnel in the team.

“We retained only the contracted players. The players are ready for the game on Sunday [today].”

Eagles will host newcomers JDR Stars at Chatsworth Stadium and Uthongathi will meet Ajax Cape Town at Athlone Stadium.

Uthongathi co-director Nkosinathi Chili revealed that the move by the PSL to postpone their opening fixtures had thrown the club into a spin.

“At first we treated the speculation of the sale of the club as a rumour because the majority of the directors of the club knew nothing about it,” Chili told City Press.

“We then went to the high court as the co-owners of the club to seek justice after the PSL initially told us that there was a buyer and a seller, and the two parties had agreed to a deal.”

When asked who the two parties were, Chili said: “It is difficult to say, but the potential buyer is known. She had a problem with the club where she was a shareholder.”

Shauwn fits this description.

Chili revealed that the players were demotivated, but everyone was ready for today’s league opener. The team finalised the registration of former Orlando Pirates midfielder Issa Sarr this week as one of their new players.

Meanwhile, PSL acting chief executive Mato Madlala said the Eagles and Uthongathi had requested postponements and they were granted two weeks to resolve their internal matters.

“So the two weeks is finished and they are now going back to play,” said the administrator.

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