venue row looms

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

Free State Stars have reacted strongly to Maluti-A-Phofung municipality's refusal to allow them to use Charles Mopeli Stadium.

Ea Lla Koto paid the required R805 fee last Wednesday for the use of the facility to host Kaizer Chiefs on March 8. Sowetan has a copy of the receipt.

In terms of the agreement, which is also in black and white on the application, Stars will also use the venue for training on March 6 and 7.

But municipal manager Nthimotse Mokhesi wrote to Stars chairman Mike Mokoena yesterday informing him that the venue was already booked.

In the letter Mokhesi says First Division side African Warriors had already booked the venue since July 30 last year for all their home games.

It is strange that the municipality went ahead and accepted the money from Stars despite knowing that the facility had already been booked.

Mayor Balekile Mzangwa and former Stars publicist Jabu Khumalo, who is also a councillor, are shareholders in Warriors.

"We are going nowhere. The game will be played in QwaQwa on that day. We have proof that we booked it," said a livid Rantsi Mokoena, Stars' brand manager.

"There are people who do not have the interest of QwaQwa's economy at heart.

"It goes without saying that the economic spin-offs will be huge."

Khumalo said: "I won't speak on behalf of the municipality, but Warriors booked the stadium last July after the fixtures were issued by the league.

"We have made a block booking. Free State Stars have called me wanting us to play as curtain-raiser, but I explained after consultation that it won't be suitable for us."

But Mokhesi said: "I think the two [Stars and Warriors] must discuss this particular day between themselves because there is a clash."

Asked why the municipality's clerk accepted the money, Mokhesi said: "She is not responsible for making bookings."