Johannesburg - The continuing contractual dispute between Polokwane City and Luc Eymael has pitted two Premier Soccer League clubs against each other, with Bloemfontein Celtic now being dragged into the matter.
The two clubs are heading for a serious clash over the services of the Belgian manager as City has demanded that Celtic stop employing Eymael.
City on Thursday sent a letter to Eymael’s legal representative, Mandla Tshabalala, to instruct his client to report to their offices in Polokwane, failing which he would be in breach of the order handed down by the PSL’s dispute resolution chamber.
City’s argument is that the “award is final and binding, and the subsequent appeal should not suspend the operation of the order pending the finalisation of the appeal process”.
Earlier in the week, the dispute resolution chamber ruled that Eymael should go back to City, and “continue serving as head coach of the club on the terms and conditions set out in the contract of employment”.
Eymael has since vowed not to set foot in Polokwane again.
He told Kick Off magazine that he was not prepared to go back to Limpopo.
“This is unfair. It’s inhumane. It’s against the law. No one is obliged to go where they are not comfortable and where his life is in danger,” he said.
“I will not put my life in danger and be uncomfortable at work. I have a family, two children and a grandson. I cannot die in South Africa, I’d rather die in my own country.
City boss Johnny Mogaladi told City Press that the Limpopo outfit expected Eymael to honour the order and return to Polokwane.
“We feel vindicated by the ruling as we have always believed we had a solid case. The coach still has a valid contract with us and we expect him to abide by the ruling,” said Mogaladi.
Tshabalala confirmed receiving the letter from City, but said he was unsure if the order meant Eymael should stop working for Celtic.
“I know that if it’s the appeal process, the order stands and he cannot work,” said Tshabalala.
He said they had since challenged the dispute resolution chamber’s verdict and were opting to go straight for arbitration to avoid the time-consuming process of appealing beforehand.
“We know that arbitration ruling is final and binding, hence we went for this option,” he said.
Barred from sitting on bench
He said he was surprised by the dispute resolution chamber’s ruling against his client.
“I find it surprising. How do you compel someone to go to work when it is clear that he doesn’t want to? It doesn’t make sense to me.”
Celtic chief executive Khumbulani Konco said his club felt hard done by.
“We will have to wait for the outcome of arbitration and take it from there,” he said.
Since joining Celtic last month, Eymael has been barred from sitting on the bench for Phunya Sele Sele’s matches because he has not been officially registered as the manager of the Bloemfontein club by the PSL.
Eymael – how things have panned out
In dispute is whether Luc Eymael’s termination of his contract with City was a deliberate breach, which would be a repudiation of the agreement.
City maintained that the contract remained intact and called on Eymael to return to the club. Eymael said he was entitled to terminate the contract.
Eymael claims that City was in breach of clauses on adequate accommodation, bonus payments, and the employment of a physical trainer and a match analyst. The accommodation issue was only raised in December.
The argument that he didn’t want to complain about accommodation at the beginning is hollow and opportunistic.
Eymael re-iterated he had a right to claim a bonus after each successful game. He did not prove that he was entitled to receive a bonus after each win by the club, and City cannot, therefore, be said to be in breach of the employment contract. In any event, it is common cause that Eymael has deducted the amount of R50 000, which he claims is due to him as bonuses from the money he owes the club.
Physical trainer and analyst
The contract of employment makes no provision for a physical trainer or a match analyst to assist the coach. If either or both were promised by the club subsequent to the signing of the contract, this would not be congruent with the employment contract.
Breach by City
The accommodation provided by the club was in compliance with what is stated in the contract. Contextually, the only interpretation that can be placed on the provision of bonuses is that they would be paid if the club finished in the top eight position at the end of the season. There was no mention of either a physical trainer or a match analyst in the employment contract.
Eymael is ordered to continue serving as head coach of the applicant as per the terms and conditions set out in the contract of employment.