South-Africa

Fallen Swallows could soon fly again

2017-04-16 06:09
OPTIMISTIC: Panyaza Lesufi. (Aubrey Kgakatsi, BackpagePix)

Johannesburg - The next three months will be critical for the revival of Moroka Swallows.

This is according to Panyaza Lesufi, the Gauteng education MEC and a staunch Swallows supporter, who is leading a team to rescue and reposition the fallen giants.

Lesufi said they have already started with a consultative process to pave the way forward.

The Dube Birds have been relegated for the third season in a row.

Four clubs

After their latest showing, Swallows will campaign in the fourth division – the SAB Regional League – next season.

Although they will honour their obligations in the lower division, City Press has learnt that a new Swallows team could be born in the near future.

A highly placed source said Swallows’ demise was a blessing in disguise.

The source said The Birds could fly again under another name – Swallows FC. This is one of the proposals from the people who want to revive the club.

The source said they had identified four clubs – two from the Premiership and two from the National First Division – that are willing to sell their status.

He was confident of The Birds’ resurrection.

“Down with the old, and forward we go,” he said boldly.

However, Lesufi was cagey about their plans. He said they did not want to go through the same ordeal they went through last season when their bid to buy Free State Stars failed.

“We learnt our lesson from that episode, and we do not want to rush into something and burn our fingers again. But we are hopeful about the future,” said Lesufi.

Things look promising

He said he would use the present schools holiday to try to tie up the loose ends.

“There are a few options when it comes to ownership, but we want to make Swallows the first club to be owned by supporters.

"It looks impossible, but anything is possible. It won’t be easy, but we are determined to revive the club in whatever format.”

He said that what scared people was the massive debt that the club had.

“The last time I counted, the club owed in the region of R197 million, if you include pension funds, owed salaries and signing-on fees, SA Revenue Service payments, rental and a whole lot of other things.

"But we are speaking to influential people and things look promising.”

Legal consequences

Lesufi said one of the challenges the club faced was that Fifa wanted to dissolve the side, while other people wanted to liquidate it.

“The club’s bank account was frozen, offices were locked as they owed rent, staff and players were not paid their salaries and there were leadership challenges as well.

“There are many issues, hence it is important to consult so we can get a consensus on the way forward, because some people might feel otherwise. We need to check the legal consequences of everything,” he said.

Swallows will celebrate their 70th anniversary in October and organisers are racing against time to revive the club before the big day.

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