Lesufi says football politics almost killed Swallows FC

Swallows FC lifetime chair and Gauteng MEC for education Panyaza Lesufi has blamed football politics for their club’s financial struggles, which he says contributed to their relegation battle, which they survived by the skin of their teeth.

He put the blame on the doorstep of league bosses who prevented the club from acquiring a lucrative sponsorship deal with Telkom.

The “Beautiful Birds” finished in 15th place  in the DStv Premiership but were thrown a lifeline in the playoffs against the University of Pretoria and Cape Town All Stars, who finished second and third  in the GladAfrica Championship.

Swallows had a chance to make life easier for themselves last Saturday, but they blew  a 1-0 lead and lost 2-1 against All Stars with only five minutes remaining on the clock.

They then went into their last match needing a win against AmaTuks. The university club just needed a draw to gain promotion to the PSL.

The match was played in a tense atmosphere but Swallows pulled through with a hard-fought 1-0 victory and they managed to retain their PSL status.

“It’s very difficult to run a PSL club without a sponsor. We had concluded a deal with Telkom, we even got the sponsorship letter. We worked and budgeted around that
sponsorship deal and we thought it was going to be approved by the powers that be. But we were caught up in a fight between two big bulls in broadcasting.

“We were told that Telkom would be a conflict of interest to the broadcaster’s sponsor SuperSport (via MultiChoice). We were just a small piece in the battle of the two giants.

“I am still surprised because when Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs play, the match is shown on TelkomOne. Those were the politics and they really affected us as a club,” Panyaza told Sunday World.

“This whole thing contributed to an 80% to our downfall. It is no secret that we are struggling financially. Other clubs too are facing difficulties and they released players and their big earners en masse. It’s even worse when there were no spectators at the matches. This was a season to forget, and we almost lost our PSL status.”

Lesufi revealed that they are going to have a bosberaad to chart the way forward after this season’s turbulence.

 

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