Bay caught in crossfire over NFD legal battle

Saga costly for KZN side as playoffs cancelled

Sihle Ndebele Journalist
Lwandile Mabuya of Richards Bay takes a shot at goal during the GladAfrica Championship 2020/21 match between Cape Town All Stars and Richards Bay.
Lwandile Mabuya of Richards Bay takes a shot at goal during the GladAfrica Championship 2020/21 match between Cape Town All Stars and Richards Bay.
Image: Shaun Roy/BackpagePix

As uninvolved as they are in the nasty court battle between fellow second-tier side Royal AM and the Premier Soccer League (PSL), Richards Bay are gradually becoming the most affected party.

Having travelled all the way from northern KwaZulu-Natal on Tuesday for their play-offs tie against Chippa United, which was scheduled for yesterday in Gqeberha, Bay were given the shock of their lives when the PSL notified them the game had been called off a few hours before it was due to kick off.

To begin with, PSL’s decision to direct Bay to travel to the Chippa was in defiance of Gauteng High Court deputy acting judge Nyathi’s order to interdict the play-offs. On Monday night, the eve of the what was supposed to be the first play-offs game between Bay and Royal, Nyathi ruled in favour of the latter that the round-robin contest be postponed.

Royal wanted the play-offs to be suspended as they are still challenging Saturday’s ruling by Gauteng deputy judge president Roland Sutherland, that made Sekhukhune United the second-tier champions.

On Tuesday, the league confirmed they would seek an urgent leave to appeal Nyathi’s play-offs and before they were granted that, they surprisingly gave the Chippa-Bay game the green light, promoting Royal to give them an ultimatum not to go ahead with the game, scheduled for Nelson Mandela Bay yesterday.

Bay, who are to contest the play-offs by virtue of finishing third on the GladAfrica table, have incurred psychological affliction from this drama, according to the club’s owner Jomo Biyela. Biyela has emphasised he does not care much about the financial loss the club made after flying to Gqeberha.

“Obviously, we’re not okay, but there’s nothing we can do. The matter of expenses is something we’ll have to discuss with PSL, but we’re more concerned about the psychological part of it. It takes a lot from you to prepare for a game,’’ Biyela told Sowetan.

“I don’t care much about finances but I only care about the well-being of my players, who in a space of four days have suffered big stress of having two games postponed at a later stage. It’s not easy, now we have to sit down with the players and make them understand the situation.’’

In a statement they released yesterday, the league argued the Nyathi's order was suspended, contrary to Royal’s stance that it was not. The league also confirmed the postponement of the play-offs until a court intervention is obtained.

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