The fate of the PSL season start again in the balance as Ajax head to court

Dr Irvin Khoza during the PSL Chairman press conference at PSL Offices, Johannesburg on 03 May 2018.
Dr Irvin Khoza during the PSL Chairman press conference at PSL Offices, Johannesburg on 03 May 2018.
Image: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Ajax Cape Town return to the South Gauteng High Court on Tuesday in their bid to have the start of the 2018/19 Premier Soccer League (PSL) season postponed until the question marks over their status have been cleared.

Ajax will petition the court to delay the beginning of the campaign as the uncertainty over whether they will be in the Absa Premiership or the National First Division has prejudiced their build-up to the season.

It is arguably the greatest crisis in the 22-year history of the PSL‚ with the league still unsure of the make-up of the 16 teams in the top-flight just days away from the scheduled start of the new competition.

The league is set to start on the weekend of August 4.

The Urban Warriors are also aware that if the league gets underway as scheduled‚ it will potentially weaken their case to be included again in the elite group‚ while at the same time they hope any delay will see sponsors and broadcasters apply pressure on the PSL to find a swift resolution to the impasse.

Tuesday’s court proceedings are the first of a three-prong strategy by Ajax to be recognised as a top-flight team‚ believing that their current 15th place in the standings means the league cannot go ahead without them.

They will also oppose the bid by the PSL to appeal the ruling of Judge Denise Fisher that saw their relegation annulled‚ for now‚ while they will also argue that if that leave to appeal is granted‚ then the ruling of Fisher remains intact until an outcome has been determined.

If Fisher gives the league the right to appeal her decision‚ with that matter likely to be heard next Monday at the earliest‚ then she may also suspend her judgement until another judge rules one way or the other‚ which would effectively see Ajax bottom of the table again.

Ajax CEO Ari Efstathiou admits that the Ndoro situation has caused “chaos” in the local game‚ but says the club will stick to their guns and have no intention of accepting relegation.

“We will throw everything at it‚” Efstathiou said. “Ajax is making every effort to find a solution to a very complex problem and we believe that the only way we can find that solution is to sit around a table and talk.

“We have continually said that and offered to find a compromise that satisfies all parties‚ at least to some degree‚ but the league has chosen to go the legal route.

“Ajax is a shareholder and a member of the league. We have no intention to cause issues that cause irreparable damage‚ we are here to find solutions and find a way forward.

“We have offered every possible avenue to find that‚ we have gone to FIFA‚ the [PSL] executive committee‚ the chairman [Irvin Khoza] and the Board of Governors.”

The PSL are determined to start the new season even with Ajax’s status uncertain as they believe that if the case ultimately goes in the favour of the club‚ they can then look at a compromise‚ which would likely be to include Ajax as a 17th team in the top division.

SowetanLIVE understands this is a last resort for the league‚ but at the same time it is hugely damaging for the brand to have the league kick-off later than scheduled‚ while it will also put enormous pressure on the fixture list in an already congested season depending on the length of the delay.

Ajax are accused of fielding Ndoro despite the fact that they were his third club of the last campaign‚ in contravention of FIFA regulations.

The club admitted they “slipped up” with the rule‚ but say the punishment handed down to them in arbitration was unprecedented and overly harsh.

They also believe the PSL should shoulder some of the blame for not informing the club of the error‚ as they had done with SuperSport United when Matsatsantsa tried to sign Lebo Manyama under the same circumstances.

Fisher set aside an arbitration ruling earlier this month that had relegated Ajax after they were deducted points in some matches that Ndoro played‚ which were then handed to their opponents.

That pushed the club from the Promotion/Relegation Play-Off position in 15th‚ to the bottom of the table and automatic relegation.

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