Johannesburg – It would be the saddest thing to happen if Maritzburg United, one of the clubs steeped in the rich history of KwaZulu-Natal football, is sold and ceases to exist.
Alarm bells rang this week that yet another Premiership club is on the market.
Last season Highlands Park were sold to become TS Galaxy and Bidvest Wits became Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila under owner Lawrence Mulaud zi‚ who sold TTM within few months to Abram Sello, who has renamed the club Marumo Gallants.
Maritzburg have been open about the fact over the past few seasons.
The club has been hit by mounting debts and the “for sale” signs for their top-flight status are already up if – underline if – the buyer is willing to keep the club in Maritzburg and the price is right.
Even at the beginning of last season, the club bosses, more specifically chairperson Farook Kadodia, mooted that he was open to discussions with a suitable buyer of the Team of Choice as the club was in the red to the tune of R9-million.
Last year, Highlands Park and Bidvest Wits were sold to new owners who decided to uproot those teams from their home bases, while Usuthu changed ownership but remained in Durban.
Like many businesses, football has been hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic and the PSL grant, the monthly stipend of R2.5-million the clubs receive, is just a drop in the ocean.
And a number of struggling clubs’ chairpersons have alluded to the fact that they are carrying the burden of keeping the clubs afloat.
The playing of matches behind closed doors during the pandemic has exacerbated the dire financial situation of the 16 Premiership and 16 National First Division clubs.
Over the years, Kadodia’s Team of Choice has survived by selling its top players to the highest bidder.
Among their latest prized possessions to leave were defender Rushine de Reuck to Mamelodi Sundowns and keeper Richard Ofori to Orlando Pirates last season.
Kadodia must be forewarned though, it would be difficult to find a wealthy buyer who would want to keep the club in Maritzburg, keep its identity, tradition and run it from Umgungundlovu.
The buyer has every right to do as they wish.
I’m afraid you will have to stick it out for more years, Kadodia, if a benevolent local and wealthy investor willing to keep the football club in Maritzburg does not come to your rescue.
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