Leopards to make money plea
David Thidiela (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - Black Leopards chairman David Thidiela says he will make a plea for financial assistance to the sports ministry and the club's telecommunications sponsor, should they progress further in their impressive but costly CAF Confederation Cup sojourn.
"We are preparing to send a request and appeal to our sponsors, MTN, and to sports minister Fikile Mbalula to help us in our national cause," Thidiela said on Tuesday.
"I can't even mention the figures we spent on logistics."
Leopards, in their first continental commitment, have gone against the grain of SA sides falling away in the early stages of African competitions.
Even with a hefty squad and bigger money reserves, Premiership champions Orlando Pirates were eliminated in the first round of this season's CAF Champions League.
"The Premier Soccer League gave us and Pirates an amount of R1 million to help us at the start," Thidiela said.
"The rest of the money has come from my pocket."
According to Thidiela, the club has already shelled out a "couple of million" for the tournament, outside of the amount contributed from the league.
"This includes having to change a shoddy hotel we got when we were playing [Saint Eloi Lupopo in the first round] in the DR Congo.
"Anyway, my team has done the country proud and did well in front of 55 000 people in Sudan [in the first leg against Al-Merreikh two weeks ago].
"I'm also sure that we will progress further in this trophy."
Leopards stand to earn a credible spot in the competition's last eight stage, should they beat Sudan's Al-Merreikh in the return leg of their third-round playoff tie at Coca-Cola Park on Saturday.
The Limpopo outfit lost 3-2 in the first leg, but Thidiela was confident of progressing to the group stages that start next month.
The benefit of making it further is that the next round kicks off the lucrative stage of the competition, with Leopards set to receive at least US $150, 000 (R1.2m).
The SA Football Association (SAFA) would get $15 000 (R123 000), as the association's share of the kitty, from continental soccer body CAF.
The structure of how the last eight teams will be financed this year will be finalised later in the month, according to CAF's deputy financial director, Mohamed El-Sherei.
"Previously, the last eight teams would receive the finances in two --one in October and a final amount in December," El-Sherei said from Cairo, Egypt.
"But this has changed this year and we will finalise the new structure in two weeks.
"However, the clubs get their money, and the association also receives its share."
Meanwhile, Leopards will have until July 31 to register five new players for the campaign, should they enter the next phase.
"We will worry about that next week after the match, but there are some players we are looking to register," Thidiela said.