Sandile Zungu, a Durban-born businessperson based in Sandton, is the latest investor in AmaZulu Football Club in the hope of reviving the outfit’s former glories and turning a profit against the odds. He fielded questions from The Witness sports editor CARL PETERS about his bold plans on Thursday.
Q: What gave you the idea to take over AmaZulu and what do you hope to achieve?
A: I honestly believe that sport is an important tool for social cohesion in South Africa. In a society with high unemployment rates and many other problems, sport can play a huge role in bringing people together. That’s besides the fact that I consider this a business move.
I believe I can make a difference, and make a return on investment.
Q: What was the purchase price for the club and did you think it was fair?
A: I am not at liberty to give you that figure, but I thought it was a fair amount [rumoured to be R50 million], considering that the AmaZulu brand has a potential of R300 million, if you run and grow the business correctly.
AmaZulu has always been seen as a powerful brand, but a sleeping giant. A club like AmaZulu has big potential.
Q: How do you feel owning such a storied club?
A: As a proud KwaZulu-Natalian — I was born in uMlazi — to find myself in the ownership of such a powerful institution makes me very proud.
Q: What are your plans for the short, medium and long term?
A: If you have seen the team play recently, it is playing a good brand of football. We have good-name players in the line-up and a good technical team. We have thus far indicated that we mean business. We want to be in the top four of the standings every season, including this season, and I know we can do it.
We mean to play attractive football that will bring fans to the stadium, when they are allowed to. We want our players to be selected for national teams and, most importantly, we want the AmaZulu brand to succeed.
The transfer window is open now and we will bring in more players.
Q: Who is your technical director at the club, the person who basically operates between you and the technical team, and who worries about the future of the club and not just current happenings?
A: We have not discussed that yet, but we believe we have enough human capital among ourselves to do things correctly. Anyway, we have only been at the club for four months and things are evolving, so perhaps that’s something we can look at.
Q: Many businessmen have failed to ignite AmaZulu over the decades, what makes you think you have a better chance?
A: I can’t speak for those who came before me. I can’t say what made them do this or that.
What I can say is that I have had several successful businesses and that I have a plan for AmaZulu. That plan revolves around players. Every year, you have to reinvest in your squad, and that’s what we plan to do.
We will also invest in the administration of the club and we plan to look holistically at the issue of players and infrastructure.
Q: Is there any business and/or political knowledge that can help you resurrect AmaZulu?
A: I don’t know how to answer that, because it is difficult to talk for yourself. But I am an engineer by training and I hold an MBA, and I have had many businesses. I believe my business acumen will definitely help in the case of AmaZulu.
Q: What can you promise the club’s fans?
A: That the glory days will be back, that we will be winning games. That the relegation days are over. We will play attractive football, but it will be winning football at the same time.
Q: Do you really see your investment paying off. If yes, how and when?
A: If all goes well, we will break even after five years and then start making a profit. The AmaZulu brand can be leveraged for several things, including financial services and selling thousands of replica kits.
Q: How valuable or important is it to invest in South African football at this point in time?
A: Very. Football is the religion of South African people. It is the most important sport. You need to put your money where people are. This investment is both for social and business reasons.