Cape Town - A football team under the South African Football Association (SAFA) in the North West region, Lerome Real South FC, have been excluded from the ABC Motsepe League after gaining promotion through the playoffs - for no apparent reason.
Lerome FC together with Marauding Classic and AC Milan all earned SAFA Second Division status upon the conclusion of the 2016/17 SAB League North West Playoffs, the third spot owing to the expulsion of Junior Pirates FC.
Lerome FC were confirmed by the SAFA provincial office as being promoted and declared as "a member in good standing" in a signed letter sent to them signed by SAFA North-West Provincial Secretary Karabo Monkwe.
The letter reads, "This serves to confirm that Lerome Real South FC has been promoted in the SAFA ABC Motsepe League for the 2017/18 season and the team is a member in good standing."
The chairperson and owner of the club, Jetro Kubeka, said they were subsequently required, as per SAFA constitution, to register their players and pay an affiliation fee of R10 000.
However, after registration and the payment of the fee they could not obtain their players' cards and fixtures for the upcoming season.
"The problem started when we had to collect the players' cards. We were told there was a problem, but SAFA officials were working on fixing it", said Kubeka.
He also said they were asked to leave a meeting convened by a SAFA provincial office for all the ABC teams on November 13, last year.
"The chairperson of that meeting said we should leave, as they were about to discuss our matter, but there were about six other teams that were present in the meeting who were not asked to leave," Kubeka added.
Platinum Development Stars were one of the two teams who finished the previous season in the relegation zone and were meant to drop to a lower division (SAB League).
Madito Molebalwa, COSATU’s local secretary in the Moses Kotane Municipality region, said a relegation letter was sent to Platinum Stars, but later revoked after the decision was challenged by the team’s attorney.
"They (Platinum Stars) were against the team being relegated and wanted to use the expulsion of Junior Pirates as a way to stay. If a team is expelled, then there should be three spots available.
"It’s a precedence that has been set before and the fact that they promoted three teams through the playoffs means they know exactly what should happen in this situation," said Molebalwa.
After five rounds of matches already played in the current season Lerome FC are yet to kick a ball. Still there are no fixtures, no explanation, sponsors are pulling out, players are frustrated with two players having already left the team saying that they would rather stay at home than play with no direction.
Lerome FC was started in 2009 by Kubeka in the Bojanala region in the North West. The club moved through the lower divisions over the years without having to buy the status of another team and currently has 27 players on their books.
The club also boasts a clubhouse where they house players from surrounding communities.
Kubeka said they are practicing on a daily basis and still have everything planned out for the season.
"We had even been given rights to use Moruleng Stadium as our home ground. It is very hard to keep these youngsters encouraged now but we are trying our best.
"This is not our fault, it's SAFA’s fault and they are not even willing to meet us halfway because right now we wouldn’t even say no to having to join now and play catch-up matches.
"We just need to play and this season I would be happy to just at least play to save my status although I am not that kind of person who sets such low standards," said Kubeka.
He concluded by saying that the club do not participate in any competitive tournaments but rather organise friendly matches with local teams to keep their players active.
SAFA spokesperson Dominic Chimhavi said: "Their matter is being attended to with regards to the way forward."
SAFA North West Secretary Karabo Monkwe when reached for comment also added: "I am not able to answer that question. I will reserve my comment, maybe call me after two weeks."