Johannesburg - Premier Soccer League and Orlando Pirates chairperson Dr Irvin Khoza
has issued a statement damning SuperSport United's "mindless utterances"
in regard to the Buccaneers' new sponsorship deal.
Last week Pirates, along with fellow Soweto club Kaizer Chiefs,
put pen to a mammoth R1 billion deal with mobile giant Vodacom, with
both clubs set to earn around R100 million per year, over a period of
On Tuesday, Matsatsantsa CEO Jose Ferreira launched a stinging attack on the trio, claiming the agreement was "not sustainable" and that South African football is now "in serious trouble".
However, Dr Khoza has now responded to those claims, and issued a statement late on Tuesday evening.
The statement read: I read with grave concern mindless
utterances attributed to the SuperSport United Chief Operating Officer
and coach in response to the sponsorship announcement of our nations'
two largest clubs, Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs, by a key supporter
of football in our country, Vodacom.
I have been observing with sadness how Gavin Hunt, the
SuperSport United coach, has in the last few years resorted to mindless
tirades aimed at everyone other than himself all in his quest to divert
attention from his recent lack of achievement. This is an accomplished
coach, who characterised 'cool', and never make any of these outbursts
when he was on the driving seat winning three Premierships in a row.
Mamelodi Sundowns, which SuperSport United is facing in the Nedbank Cup
final on Saturday, was not spared from Hunt's tirade. Is this another of
his diversionary tactics - in case he loses to Sundowns on Saturday?
The joining of Hunt by Jose Ferreira, SuperSport United
Chief Operating Officer now makes me question if this is SuperSport
United Football Club and Multichoice, their parent company's official
position. I am responding publicly to this mindless action by people
who should know better because the courtesy of behind closed doors
discussions will encourage the incorrigible to join in this 'gang- bang'
We have worked very hard in the last fifteen years to
ensure that the PSL brand drives the recovery of our football from many
years of being undervalued to the point that affect the quality of our
game in the continent and the world. Our competition is not only local.
Thanks to SuperSport, the channel that owns SuperSport United, our local
product competes in real time with the well funded leagues in Europe.
We have made significant progress in this regard. When we
started, fifteen years ago, clubs received from the league a grant of a
million rands per annum. Today all the clubs in the PSL receive a grand
of a million rands a month. This bears testimony to the power of the PSL
as a channel of choice for South African marketers eager to reach the
esteemed and loyal following of our league. So valuable is the value
proposition that we have created that SuperSport, the company that owns
SuperSport United, outbid the SABC to acquire broadcast rights at an
investment of two billion rands.
The sacrifice and selflessness of Orlando Pirates and
Kaizer Chiefs in creating an equitable and competitive league cannot be
over emphasised. Distribution of proceeds in the PSL is done the same
for each team notwithstanding the size and contribution by Orlando
Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs. In mentioning the players he claims to have
lost, Hunt chooses to omit the high prices SuperSport charged. Every
time Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs express an interest in players,
prices sky rockets. To now decry the sponsorship that Orlando Pirates
and Kaizer Chiefs command due to their market positions is not only
deflationary but create a risk of devaluing football in South Africa
Hunt and Ferreira's tirades seem to suggest that the only
measure of equity that they would accept is when SuperSport United is
dominating the league. Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs are supposed to
be mere numbers in a league dominated by them with the support of their
rich parent company. This is besides their playing week in and week out
in near empty stadiums.
I do not know whether to attribute these utterances to
ignorance or mischief making. Whichever is the reason, the effect is the
same. I am responding publicly to this mindlessness because our
sponsors and partners, who have an appreciation of our value, are now
finding themselves under pressure to defend their investments in
football because of the questions resulting from utterances from these
careless and callous people.