NFD saga in court as two clubs claim promotion

Sekhukhune, Royal parade medals in dramatic last day

Sihle Ndebele Journalist
Yusuf Maart of Sekhukhune United celebrates goal with teammates during GladAfrica Championship 2020/21 match JDR Stars and Sekhukhune at Giant Stadium, Pretoria.
Yusuf Maart of Sekhukhune United celebrates goal with teammates during GladAfrica Championship 2020/21 match JDR Stars and Sekhukhune at Giant Stadium, Pretoria.
Image: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Sekhukhune United are optimistic the court will declare them rightful GladAfrica Championship kings, threatening to escalate the matter to Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) if needs to be.

On Sunday, the final day of the second tier season, Royal AM drew 1-all with Cape Town All Stars to secure the top berth, as Sekhukhune thumped JDR 3-1. In that midst, the Premier Soccer League (PSL) issued a statement to confirm they couldn’t hand over the trophy to the KZN outfit amid the unresolved issue involving Sekhukhune.

Funny enough, both Royal and Sekhukhune proclaimed themselves as the champions with the T-shirts branded “2020/2021 champs” the order of the day in the pair’s camps. Royal took the art of crowning themselves to another level by giving almost everyone associated with the club medals which they had purchased.

A Sekhukhune official, who spoke to Sowetan on condition of anonymity, disclosed they were now challenging the league’s bid to overturn the decision by its arbitrator to award them three points in court.

“The matter is in court. The league wants to change rules now because we’re supposed to be promoted to the top-flight. No, we can’t allow that and we’re positive the court will rule in our favour. If we fail, we will go to CAS because we have a strong case,’’ said the Sekhukhune official, who wasn’t keen to reveal the name of the court the matter is being heard in.

Acting PSL chief executive Mato Madlala highlighted the league had nothing to do with Royal’s medals and all the festivities both teams indulged in post their matches at the weekend.

“We released our statement that we couldn’t hand over the trophy, whatever the teams did after their games, we’re not involved at all. Our press release was clear, so whatever Sekhukhune and Royal decided to do, we don’t have any control,’’ said Madlala.

All this drama stems from a fixture between Sekhukhune and Polokwane City on January 2, where the latter contravened the PSL handbook by failing to comply with the Under-23 rule. Sekhukhune protested before the game that ended 1-0 in favour of Rise and Shine.

Initially, the league’s disciplinary committee docked Polokwane three points without awarding those points to Sekhukhune. However, Babina Noko appealed that ruling and arbitrator Hilton Epstein SC eventually ruled that Polokwane had forfeited the tie to Sekhukhune with a 3-0 scoreline and a R100,000 suspended fine.

Even, so the PSL didn’t update the log in relation to the three points Sekhukhune got from the arbitrator. SA Football Association chief executive Tebogo Motlanthe has maintained their position as the football controlling body was that the arbitrator’s decision is final.

“We’re very clear. The judiciary processes are independent. As the association we observe everything that’s going on. Even PSL executives can’t change the decision of the arbitrator because it’s final. Only a CAS or court can change it,’’ said Motlanthe.

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