Cape Town - Ajax Cape Town have fired back at City of Cape Town’s mayoral committee member Gareth Bloor over what Ajax describe as the Chiefs "debacle".
In a statement released on the club's website, the Cape Town-based PSL side issued a stinging response to Bloor's statement on the speculation that Kaizer Chiefs could use the Cape Town Stadium for certain matches over the next few seasons.
On Monday, Ajax accused Bloor of taking a "couple of low blows" at the club.
According to Ajax, Bloor's comments regarding the club's non-payment of rental were "incorrect and far from the truth".
The Cape Town club also lashed out at Bloor's crowd attendance estimate and stated that "is inaccurate and Councillor Bloor should be cautious of misleading the public".
Ajax called on the City "to get involved in our football and most importantly to back and support its own ratepayers" but believes a deal between Kaizer Chiefs and the city has already been agreed.
See the Cape Town City council statement HERE!
Ajax Cape Town statement:
A statement released by the City of Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for Tourism, Events and Economic Development, Councillor Gareth Bloor on Friday morning was ill timed, considering his invitation to meet with SAFA Western Cape Chairman, Advocate Norman Arendse and all the City’s professional football clubs, including Ajax Cape Town, later on the same Friday afternoon. In his statement, Councillor Bloor defended the City’s actions by taking a couple of low blows at Ajax Cape Town who have in recent years partnered the City in a joint venture at the Cape Town Stadium.
The City had failed to consult with any of the football bodies in the Western Cape , or for that matter, its only football tenant, Ajax Cape Town, since negotiations commenced with representatives of Kaizer Chiefs sometime in May or June of this year (Kaizer Chiefs confirmed the use of Cape Town Stadium with the PSL on 1 July 2015). The manner in which these negotiations were handled by representatives of the City, clearly illustrates that the City was hoping to confirm the arrangement before it was announced to the general public.
The proposed 3 year agreement with Kaizer Chiefs could have negative long term implications on football in our City. Apart from the financial risks that the City may suffer, which were incidentally denied by Councillor Bloor, the already strained relationships that the City has with many of the stakeholders of football in the City would be further affected.
In Friday afternoon’s meeting, all of the City’s professional clubs that were present , including SAFA Western Cape, showed their firm opposition to the proposed arrangement. They unanimously opposed the proposal sighting the lack of support that local football generally receives from the City of Cape Town. They also did not buy into the City’s idea that this was an exercise that would boost the stadium’s coffers and reduce their budget deficit substantially. It was also made clear that they were opposing the principal of the arrangement and they were not opposed to Kaizer Chiefs per say.
Currently, the six professional clubs that are based in Cape Town are all privately owned and invest huge resources into their clubs. They generally do not receive any assistance from the City, in fact all the clubs that use the local stadiums pay rental for the usage of these facilities. Between them they employ in excess of 250 people and offer many a hopeful footballer the opportunity to become a professional. SAFA Western Cape, are one of the largest regions within the SAFA National Association, with over 100 000 registered members.
In his statement, Councillor Bloor’s attack on Ajax Cape Town was even more astonishing considering their support for the City regarding the Cape Town Stadium. Ajax Cape Town are the only user that has committed to using Cape Town Stadium by signing a lease until May 2017, even though using Athlone Stadium, would be more financially suited. Ajax Cape Town can confirm that using Cape Town Stadium will cost the club an additional R3.75m over the 3 year period of the lease, compared to the cost of playing at Athlone Stadium.
It is also disappointing that Councillor Bloor, although correctly quoting certain numbers with regard to ticket sales at some games, chooses to conceal the fact that the City recouped in excess of R2.7m from ticket sales from August 2014 to May 2015 from the sale of approximately 52 000 tickets. Simply put, Ajax Cape Town paid more than R2.7m to use the stadium. And his statement “…they do not pay rental, do not pay for City costs….” is therefore incorrect and far from the truth.
Hoping that the Chiefs games “…draw crowds in excess of 35 000…” for the games against Wits, SuperSport and Platinum Stars, when the same games at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg don’t even attract 30% of that number, is inaccurate and Councillor Bloor should be cautious of misleading the public.
One then wonders if there is no substantial financial benefit to the City to bring Chiefs to play nine of their “home” games at Cape Town Stadium, then why is the City considering the proposal at the detriment of the whole Cape football fraternity. If the City is really interested “…to bring back the crowds to the stadium….” then the City clearly needs to get involved in our football and most importantly to back and support its own ratepayers.
With these facts in mind, if indeed, the City’s intentions are solely financial and not politically driven, one wonders why the City would still be considering a 3 year agreement. Why would it allow Kaizer Chiefs, a Johannesburg based club, to use a facility built and funded by the rate payers of Cape Town? Why would it risk damaging the relationship with Ajax Cape Town, who has supported the Cape Town Stadium for the past four seasons? Would the City contract the Blue Bulls to play their home games at Cape Town Stadium for a financial benefit?
What we can definitely confirm, without any doubt whatsoever, is that it seems like the arrangement with Chiefs is a “fait accompli” and Cape football will once again be short changed by the City’s political agendas.