DETAILS have been revealed of how Nelson Mandela Bay PSL soccer club Bay United – now likely to be sold and moving out of the Eastern Cape – spent R40-million. Meanwhile, finger-pointing between Umlilo and the municipality continues with club owner Sipho Pityana expressing disappointment “in the lack of support from the local municipality and the provincial government over the past year”.
After playing one season in top-flight football, the club has revealed there are four prospective buyers for the First Division franchise, should management decide to sell. Both the coach, Khabo Zondo, and the players, whose contracts expire at the end of this month, nervously await a final announcement on the future of the club on May 27.
The club revealed that of the four prospective buyers Uitenhage businessman Butityi Konki was the only bidder who had indicated he would be willing to keep the club in the province. The other three bidders are from Gauteng and the Western Cape. At a board meeting at the weekend, Pityana revealed that R40-million had been invested over the past two years in the club, which has failed to remain in the Premier League.
Pityana expressed the club‘s disappointment at the lack of support from the local municipality and the provincial government over the past year.
“This is not the time to point fingers at anybody, but … we feel we were seriously let down by those entrusted with the responsibility of managing recreational public facilities like stadiums,” he said.
“There‘s no way of sustaining a professional football franchise in the Nelson Mandela metro without some serious infrastructural support and involvement by the local and provincial spheres of government.”
According to club spokesman Vuyo Mvoko, United paid up to R108000 to the EP Rugby Union to host each of the two Premiership home games it played a month. The club was also required to erect a temporary fence around the stadium as well as hire a huge security personnel contingent, at an additional cost of about R150000.
Municipal spokesman Kupido Baron came to the defence of the metro. “The municipality did extremely well in supporting the club. Bay United never paid a cent for the usage of the stadium.
“The municipality paid all the money that was owed – R1,5-million – and assisted with the security fencing – about R70000 per game. We have proof of these payments and invite anyone wanting to see the evidence to come to us.
“We take the development of soccer very seriously, and jumped at the opportunity when Bay got promotion, with the hope that they would perform.
“We are still committed to the development of soccer in the region. We will go out once again to canvas to bring back top-flight football to the metro,” he said.
Safa NMB president Johnson Kula called for the intervention of the sports ministry in the possible departure of Umlilo from the region.
“Such a move would have disastrous consequences for soccer, not only in Port Elizabeth, Uitenhage and Despatch, but in the entire Eastern Cape Province.
“Bay United was well on its way to becoming a legacy builder for the entire province, not only providing opportunities for our budding young talent but also administrators and technical officials.
“ Safa will be contacting the Minister of Sport, Makhenkesi Stofile, the MEC of sport, as well as the Nelson Mandela metropolitan municipality.
“We would like to have urgent meetings with them to see what can be done to salvage the situation. Bay United can bounce back and return to the Premier League,” Kula said.
Losing the team could spell bad news for the new stadium, but Baron gave his assurance it would continue to see top football in the future. “That will not change. Obviously it won‘t be on as frequent a basis as in the past year.
“But we will continue hosting big matches like some of the PSL games, Bafana Bafana and the Vodacom Challenge which we will be hosting in June,” Baron said.
source: Weekend Post