I owe my players, Jomo Sono admits

Jomo Sono (Getty Images)
Jomo Sono (Getty Images)

Johannesburg - Jomo Sono has opened up to City Press amid the player salary issue that has rocked his club.

Sono said part of the trouble was that some players drew “Premiership salaries”. This had weighed heavily on Jomo Cosmos’ wage bill while the club was in the National First Division (NFD).

“I’ll be the first chairperson that comes out to say ‘I owe you’, and, yes, we owe them for May and June,” the owner/coach admitted at the team’s training grounds in Turffontein, south of Johannesburg, on Tuesday.

“When we got relegated to the NFD (two seasons ago), we went down with Premier Soccer League (PSL) contracts and we were hoping to return after one season. Most of the players were on PSL salaries and I could not afford them. That’s why I also had to release 28 players; I simply could not afford them.”

Sono has promised that “things will get better and we’ll pay them”.

“It’s not only Jomo Cosmos that is facing problems, even big companies ... every house has got its own storm and this will pass,” he said.

But this has not gone down well with striker Clifford Mulenga, who went public with his plight, claiming on national radio in the middle of the week that he was owed nine months in wages. He also called his former boss a liar.

This escalated into a fallout with Sono, who hit back, saying: “I won’t stoop to his level.”

In turn, Sono labelled the Zambia-born player a rebel.

“Why is he only coming out now after I told him we won’t renew his contract? For me, this is a Yaya Toure story; he praised Pep Guardiola as (a) god at Manchester City when he was playing, but turned around and said Guardiola was a bad man and a racist when he was not playing,” retorted Sono.

Mulenga said he had asked the SA Football Players Union (SAFPU) to take up his fight.

“I have a contract with Cosmos until 2019 and the club owes me about R146 000. This includes short
payments since October last year,” said Mulenga, who backed up his statement by producing a copy of the signed contract.

“It is not about Clifford and Jomo because there are others who are also owed. All we are asking for is what is due to us.”

Meanwhile, SAFPU president Thulaganyo Gaoshubelwe said the union had tried in vain to reach Cosmos.

“Jomo said his door was open, but then refused us when we asked to see the players,” said Gaoshubelwe.

“We are happy that people like Clifford stood up. We’ll continue exposing this, and serial offenders must be punished. For the longest time, we have called for financial fair play.”

Sono, however, denied shutting the door on SAFPU.

“Why should I fight the union? We have an open-door policy at Cosmos. Am I so difficult? No, I am not the
arrogant person they make me out to be,” he said.

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