Soccer bosses take sides over controversial commission

Molefi Mika and Ramatsiyi Moholoa

In a move that signalled a split among Premier Soccer League members, fiery Jomo Sono yesterday supported Finance Minister Trevor Manuel, who is bent on stopping payment of sponsorship commissions to club bosses.

Manuel is said to have written a letter to Absa Bank protesting that it would be wrong to pay R50 million as commission to those who negotiated the R500 million sponsorship deal with the bank on behalf of the PSL.

A few days ago there were also rumblings when it was said that there would be commissions paid out to the negotiating team for clinching the R1,6 billion TV deal with SuperSport International.

On the one hand, the PSL says it is investigating a "plot" to topple its executive committee.

Those who negotiated the deals are Irvin Khoza, chairman of the PSL from Orlando Pirates; Kaizer Motaung of Kaizer Chiefs, who is chairman of the PSL's finance committee; and PSL executive member Mato Madlala, of Lamontville Golden Arrows. The negotiating team also comprised Trevor Phillips, former PSL chief executive, and Peter Mencer.

Said Sono, Jomo Cosmos' boss, yesterday: "Why bring back to football what once happened in the National Soccer League (NSL) when Abdul Bhamjee and Cyril Kobus were arrested for corruption?

"We cannot allow people to reward themselves for bringing sponsorship to the league.

"It's wrong and immoral because we should be ensuring good governance and this way we are not.

"We as the clubs have not agreed to pay commissions to people who are supposed to be serving the interests of the league.

"Rather start a referees' academy and pay referees as professionals with that money.

"The money can also be channelled to clubs by paying about R8million that will go to their development programmes. As for those who are considered to have done well for the betterment of the PSL, honoraria can be considered.

"We would not be levelling the playing fields because clubs belonging to people who represented the league would have gained more than others."

On the issue of an alleged plot to topple the current PSL leadership, Sono said: "How can I plot against my business? I have invested a lot of money in football. There is therefore no need to plot against it. We are merely doing what we did against Stix Morewa," said Sono, referring to events that led to the Pickard Commission which resulted in the resignation of the late Solomon Morewa as Safa president over alleged maladministration.

"There is no need for an investigation because I am one of those who are not happy about this matter.

"Patrice Motsepe, of Mamelodi Sundowns, Ajax Cape Town boss John Comitis, Derek Blackensee of Bidvest Wits and Larry Brookstone of Platinum Stars can confirm this.

"This is not an attack on any one, sponsors are there waiting because of the hosting of the 2010 World Cup," argued Sono.

Motsepe could not be found for comment.

"As far as Wits are aware, the issue of paying 10percent commission to executive members who negotiated sponsorship deals is still to come up for discussion," said Blackensee, adding that the club was, however, also not happy that officials appointed to lead the league could now individually benefit from such deals.

Comitis, who is also opposed to the paying out of commission to PSL club bosses, said the issue was generating bad publicity for both soccer and the league.

"Jomo summed it up well. I am, however, compromised by the fact that I can't be seen to be attacking my own colleagues in the executive committee," Comitis said though "but a person like Irvin Khoza needs to be considered for some kind of reward. Irvin has done a lot in bringing income to the league. I hope other club members will remember that".

Larry Brookstone said: "My views are solely mine. The whole matter is being blown out of proportion because of constant delays for it to be discussed at the right forums.

"I am not saying people should receive or not receive commissions but I feel if it's done it should be done properly and transparently."