Buyer swoops for Swallows
Johannesburg - A new and realistic buyer has swooped to buy Moroka Swallows from the estate of late German multimillionaire and entrepeneur Dieter Bock and a sale of the club termed "The Beautiful Birds" is expected shortly.
This was announced on Thursday by Swallows chairman and managing-director, Leon Prins, who said a confidential agreement existed with the interested party and he was therefore not at liberty to disclose the potential buyer's name.
However, Prins said the sale was "imminent", but the finalising of the terms was unlikely to be completed before the launch of the Premier League programme later this month.
"In the meantime," added Prins, "the day-to-day running of the club will be unaffected as the executor of Mr Bock's estate has proved most co-operative and understanding and we have formed a good working relationship."
Prins also stated that, in all probability, he would remain with The Birds for at least a year or two after any sale was completed during what would be a transition period. The latest development seemingly rules out the sale of the club to Namibian interests or a disgruntled group of present minority shareholders whose stake in the club is in the vicinity of 16 per cent as against the 84 per cent shareholding in the Bock estate.
Ironically, the 72 year-old business mogul, who died of a massive heart attack, had already placed Swallows up for sale shortly before his death.
The marriage of opposites between the wealthy German businessman and Swallows, the one-time giants of South African soccer, was at that point already on the rocks and heading for the divorce courts.
Although Swallows received something of a lifesaver and achieved moderate success after Bock bought the overwhelming majority shareholding in the club from the late David Chabeli, some six years ago and injected much-needed finance into the club, the old dynamism and charisma of the Soweto glamour club, which came into existence in 1947, was never truly recreated.
In a statement before his death, Bock said he felt that with the many opportunities existing in the growing African soccer market, Swallows' development would be enhanced by a fresh owner or co-owners buying into the club - or taking over completely.
Almost eerily, his assesment will now come to fruition.
In the 1980s under Chilean-born coach Mario "the Godfather" Tuani, Swallows boasted one of the most skillful and exciting club combinations yet seen in the South African soccer spectrum, with players of the calibre of Thomas "Whose Fooling Who?" Hlongwane, Aubrey "The Great" Magkopela, Ace Mnini, Sam "Happy Cow" Mnkomo, Aaron "Roadblock" Makhathini, Sulie Bhamjee, Gavin Easthorpe and the South American international defenders, Mario Varas and Raul Gonzalez
And now, it would seem, The Birds are again at the crossroads - with the need for new viable ownership the key to this legendary soccer phoenix rising again.