The future of Port Elizabeth based Chippa United hangs in the balance after the opposition’s call for Co-operative Governance Minister Pravin Gordhan to pull the plug on the R72 million combined sponsorship that the Maritzburg and Chippa United Premier Soccer League (PSL) teams received from the Msunduzi and Nelson Mandela Bay municipalities.
The DA has demanded that the minister withdraw the money injected into Maritzburg United in KwaZulu-Natal and Chippa United in Port Elizabeth.
The Msunduzi Municipality and Nelson Mandela Bay metro both signed deals worth a combined R72m with the two teams to use their facilities and stay in their cities.
Chippa United was lured to the Eastern Cape after it complained that it wasn’t getting support from the Cape Town metro.
But the two municipalities believe their cash injection into the two teams was worth every cent.
Kupido Baron, mayoral spokesman for the Nelson Mandela metro, said they needed a professional soccer team to develop soccer in the Eastern Cape. “The deal with Chippa United was made to improve business at the Nelson Mandela Bay stadium to enhance the self-sufficiency of the facility by ensuring regular top-flight football and rugby matches at the stadium.”
Chippa United was doing well and the team was committed to developing football in the Eastern Cape and to bringing top-class football to the doorstep of local fans, he said.
The team was well supported, which was an indication that people backed the council’s decision.
Since taking over the co-operative governance portfolio Gordhan, who is expected to respond in Parliament on Monday, has been talking tough about curbing expenditure, streamlining costs and providing efficient services.
In a 2013 deal with the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro, Maritzburg United played home matches at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium and were also in the running for sponsorship to be based in Port Elizabeth from 2014. A deal that was subsequently signed by Chippa United who continue to be plagued with coach and management concerns.
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