By Kgomotso Mokoena
Ambitious PSL club Chippa United owner Siviwe “Chippa” Mpengesi has achieved what no other club boss could after he acquired a stadium lease for 20 years.
Mpengesi has acquired the Buffalo City Stadium in East London, which also houses the next door Jan Smuts Stadium, in a lease that will see the Chilli Boys occupy the adjacent venues until 2040.
With the Sisa Dukashe (Absa Stadium) pitch deemed unsuitable to host PSL matches this year, the Chilli Boys will use the Buffalo City venue as their alternative home ground. The club said they were reluctant to dump Sisa Dukashe, in Mdantsane township where they enjoy massive support.
“We are the only club to have acquired such a lease. We are the pride of the Eastern Cape and the Buffalo City municipality has approved our budget for the seven or eight games that we will take there,” said Mpengesi.
“I won’t mention the figures but it is a very good deal money-wise. The other matches will take place at our number one home ground, which is the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth. We are still contracted to the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality,” said Mpengesi.
“I am going to open a sports academy there in Buffalo City so that we can develop future players there. We are a brand that is associated with the people of the Eastern Cape.
“One thing that we did well was that the team is not seen as a team that belongs to Mpengesi, like in other provinces with other PSL clubs.
“People of this province are so attached to this club. My roots are from the Eastern Cape and that is why people identify with this club. Even if there was to be another club from the province, it would not be easy for people to dump Chippa and follow the other club.”
Known for his tendency to be quick to pull the trigger when it comes to firing coaches when he arrived on the scene eight years ago, Mpengesi seems to have evolved into an astute businessman and a future leader in the PSL structures.
“It’s our eighth year in the professional ranks and there was also that season that we were relegated. It was always a fight to survive relegation. We always started badly.
“We hope we can avoid chopping and changing coaches, and also have a stable team with players that are dedicated. We do not want to be the team that is always fighting relegation.
“Our goal this year is to compete and establish the team as a force,” Mpengesi said.