Unhappy Mangaung ‘did all they could’ to secure Nedbank final

11 April 2019 - 17:22
By Mahlatse Mphahlele
Nedbank branding and trophy during the Nedbank Cup Last 16 match between Kwadukuza United FC and Supersport United at Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium on April 04, 2017 in Durban, South Africa.
Image: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images Nedbank branding and trophy during the Nedbank Cup Last 16 match between Kwadukuza United FC and Supersport United at Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium on April 04, 2017 in Durban, South Africa.

The Nedbank Cup final venue saga took another turn on Thursday when Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality and Free State Cheetahs (Pty) Ltd expressed their disappointment that the Free State Stadium was not awarded the match.

Premier Soccer Chairman chairman Irvin Khoza said on Wednesday that the league could not secure the Bloemfontein venue due to issues beyond their control.

But a high-ranking official from the Mangaung municipality and a statement from the rugby union contradicted that statement.

“The venue that was preferred by the sponsors for this final was Bloemfontein but unfortunately because of issues beyond our control we could not secure that venue. The final is now going to Moses Mabhida Stadium on the 18th of May‚” said Khoza in a press conference on Wednesday.

Mangaung spokesperson Qondile Khedama told SowetanLIVE on Thursday there are no issues‚ from their side‚ that could possibly have prevented Bloemfontein from hosting the final‚ and that they had approached Nedbank last year‚ where the sponsors indicated their interest.

“There was nothing that could have stopped us from hosting this final or it happening in Mangaung because we had the full backing of Executive Mayor Olly Mlamleli‚” he said.

“We were going to do whatever was necessary to make sure that this event happen and the mayor was very disappointed.

“The executive mayor was willing to be engaged so she could make interventions because some of the things you must quantify in terms of money.”

The Free State Cheetahs issued a strongly-worded statement where they said the stadium had always been available and they were prepared to move the rugby team’s home matches and delay the reseeding of the pitch to accommodate the match.

“Contrary to the announcement made by PSL regarding the hosting of the Nedbank Cup final‚ Toyota [Free State] Stadium in Bloemfontein is and was always available for the Nedbank Cup final‚” the Cheetahs’ statement read.

“The Cheetahs were even willing to reschedule rugby matches to a community ground to show commitment towards the event.

“Taking into consideration that autumn and winter temperatures in the Free State are not favourable‚ Free State Cheetahs (Pty) Ltd went as far as to reschedule the annual pitch reseeding until after the Nedbank Cup Final.”

Khedama alleged that the municipality were not contacted when the final decision was taken.

“We have been able to host the World Cup in 2010 – why can’t we host a cup final?” he questioned.

“When we host anything that we feel is going to benefit the city‚ we sit down and look at the process plan. What is there for us in terms of the development plan of the city and entertaining people through the sport they love?

“If there was going to be a need for us to offer support of any services‚ we were going to request the assistance of the executive mayor. We were going to engage with the management of the stadium‚ other logistics like water‚ electricity‚ security‚ traffic and police and the likes. But we were not going to offer them money.”

PSL spokesperson Lux September did not want to comment.

The PSL had sent a statement out on Wednesday evening correcting the wording of the statement in question by Khoza‚ which was incorrectly replicated in some publications.

The quote by Khoza that was incorrectly used is the one that the Cheetahs referred to in their statement.

The Khoza quote‚ in which the wording was incorrect‚ was: “The Executive Committee discussed the venue for the Nedbank Cup final but the sponsors’ preferred venue in Bloemfontein was not available due to unforeseen reasons. It will therefore move to Moses Mabhida Stadium.”