Johannesburg - Ajax Cape Town will remain relegated - for now - but their case is far from over.
On Friday, Judge Raylene Keightley dismissed Ajax’s urgent application to stop the promotion play-offs from continuing.
However, Keightley granted an urgent review of arbitrator William Mokhari’s ruling, which will be heard in the high court in the coming weeks.
She said Ajax could file their papers with the deputy judge president to expedite the matter.
Mokhari found Ajax guilty of fielding Tendai Ndoro, and ordered they forfeit their wins over Platinum Stars and SuperSport United, as well as their draw against Polokwane City. As a result of losing the seven points, they were automatically relegated and Stars were elevated to the play-offs spot.
In her judgment, Keightley said Ajax could still get relief in their application to seek an order expediting a review and the setting aside of the arbitration award made by Mokhari.
“Should the applicants succeed in their review, the NSL [National Soccer League, the Premier Soccer League’s holding company] has indicated that it will deal with the consequences, and make whatever arrangements become necessary. The position of the applicants will not necessarily be determined finally by the outcome of the play-offs as presently scheduled.
“On the other hand, to proceed with urgency to suspend the play-offs now, when the matter has been so hastily brought to court at the eleventh hour, would not be in the interest of the NSL, its members and the public it serves.”
She directed Ajax to supply their papers by Wednesday and the respondents (NSL) to file their answering papers by Friday.
The applicants must then file their reply by May 29, and all the parties must file their heads of argument by June 1.
But, for now, she said she could not grant Ajax’s wishes to halt the play-offs.
Jomo Cosmos will host Black Leopards this afternoon.
“I am not satisfied that the applicants have established that they were justified in proceeding to seek to interdict the play-offs with the degree of urgency they have adopted. To proceed to consider their application in these circumstances would not be in the general interests of all parties represented by the NSL,” she said in her judgment.
“In my view, this urgency was not justified on the basis that the league matches and the arbitration award acted as unforeseen events that, together, triggered the urgency as contended for by the applicants. The history of the matter demonstrates that the applicants were well aware of the risks of playing Ndoro from the start of the year.
“They must have been aware of the risks of relying on the impugned dispute resolution chamber ruling after Cassim SC’s award. By the time that the Uterhaltre J judgment was handed down, and shortly thereafter the disciplinary proceedings were instituted, the applicants ought to have been fully aware that the NSL intended to deal with the issues urgently,” she said.
“It was expressly notified that the reason for the urgency of the disciplinary arbitration was precisely because it could affect the play-off standings. It must have been aware of the risks involved in this regard.
“Despite this, the applicants questioned, and in fact denied, the urgency of the situation. They also took no steps to raise and ventilate the jurisdiction point that they now rely upon until May 14.”