Cape Town – The future of two top-flight soccer teams hangs in the balance after the opposition’s call for Co-operative Governance Minister Pravin Gordhan to pull the plug on the R72 million sponsorship the Premier Soccer League (PSL) teams received from two municipalities.
The DA has demanded that the minister withdraw the money injected into Maritzburg United in KwaZulu-Natal and Chippa United in Port Elizabeth.
Gordhan is to respond in Parliament on Monday.
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.
A spokeswoman for the Msunduzi Municipality, Thobeka Mafumbatha, said the three-year deal, worth R36m, with Maritzburg United was in the best interest of all who love soccer in the city.
She said keeping the team in the city would have positive economic spin-offs for Msunduzi.
“Not only has the municipality invested so much in soccer, we have more than doubled our investment from council funding in terms of infrastructure,” said Mafumbatha.
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 has been talking tough about curbing expenditure, streamlining costs and providing efficient services.