In a 48-page document filed to court, Polokwane City have argued their bizarre and late decision to challenge arbitrator Hilton Epstein’s verdict to award points to Sekhukhune United is in the interest of all the teams in the GladAfrica Championship and is also in line with preventing bad precedence.
Sowetan is in possession of the papers Polokwane filed on Monday, in which they want the High Court (Gauteng local division in Johannesburg) to set aside Epstein’s ruling that they had forfeited the tie which they played against Sekhukhune in January, with a 3-0 scoreline and a R100,000 suspended fine. The matter will be heard on Friday.
“Polokwane have taken immediate steps to challenge the award [of three points to Sekhukhune]. The effect of not setting it [the arbitrator’s decision] is that it sets bad precedence for future dispute and Sekhukhune would unfairly benefit on the ranking of the championship,’’ states the document.
“By awarding unmerited three points to Sekhukhune, the award unfairly benefits and advantages Sekhukhune against other teams in terms of its ranking on the championship log."
Rise and Shine 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. Now in their court papers, Polokwane cite Covid-19 as the main factor they couldn’t have needed U-23 players on their team sheets against Babina Noko.
“Polokwane obtained the test results at about 19h00 on January 1 [the eve of the controversial game], declaring that three of its seven U-23 players tested positive. We were left with four to go to the game with,’’ stated the court paper’s page 15.
Rise and Shine partially blame the league for not advising them what to do in case of their U-23 player contracting the novel virus. “Under the circumstances, the PSL could have provided clear instructions on how the match would proceed in light of the information before them.’’
Polokwane operations officer, Tincy Tema declined to comment when Sowetan contacted him yesterday, saying “the matter is now sub juice".
Apart from the moral matter they raised, Polokwane clearly have nothing to gain directly from their court action, more so when coming to their log position at No 12.
Sekhukhune are top of the NFD by two points ahead of Royal AM, but both teams celebrated winning the championship following weekend matches.
Should it drag on, the court matter could delay the promotion playoffs as the NFD log has still not been finalised.