Pietermaritzburg - Premiership club Maritzburg United will not play any games in Port Elizabeth this season and will instead focus on building their brand in Pietermaritzburg, the club announced on Wednesday.
The Team of Choice played six games in the windy city over the past two years when they were offered hefty financial reward to shift some of their big games to the Eastern Cape.
“I can confirm that all the matches will be played at the Harry Gwala Stadium this season,” Maritzburg chairman Farook Kadodia said on Wednesday.
“The board of directors have taken a very bold step to sacrifice any revenue we would have received from moving three games this season as we had done in the previous two seasons.
“They did offer us the chance to play there, but we wanted to remain here and continue striving to build the brand locally. We’re happy with the decision and look forward to the support of the locals here in the city.”
Kadodia insisted the decision was not results based -- they lost all three games at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium last year -- but one they had made considering the further development of the club.
He also hit out at media reports suggesting the club would be sold or relocated.
“Those reports are totally false and fabricated,” he said.
“I can proudly say that Maritzburg United in no way will leave the city. The club will always be based in Pietermaritzburg.”
According to Kadodia, United had already begun development of its training facility in Pietermaritzburg and had further plans to invest in development football.
He was also confident of building on the successes of last season, despite the campaign ending poorly and the club finishing 11th in the league.
“To finish outside the top eight, after spending the majority of the season in the top six, was a bitter pill to swallow,” Kadodia said.
“But it was still a very encouraging season, the sixth successive one of top-flight football.
“We also managed the highest points total (39) in our history.”
The Team of Choice unveiled their six new signings for the season as they looked to build on their performances in the previous campaign.
Following the departure of Cuthbert Malajila to Mamelodi Sundowns, they roped in Ghanaian Yakubu Mohammed, Robyn Johannes, Ashley Hartog, Nhlanhla Vilakazi, Thokozani Sekotlong and Thami Mkhize.
There were also changes to club management, with recently-retired Kaizer Chiefs custodian Arthur Bartman appointed new goalkeeper coach, while coach Ernst Middendorp recently signed a two-year contract extension.
“There have been several changes at the club in the off-season, both on and off the field,” Kadodia said.
“I am really impressed with the energy and enthusiasm the new backroom staff have brought thus far.
“With regard to the new players, I am confident they will have a successful season ahead.”
United have again set their sights on a top-eight finish in the upcoming league campaign.
“Our first ambition will be to finish in the top eight and then reset our targets from there," Kadodia said.
“I am quite confident that the future will be bright and look forward to a promising season.”