Johannesburg - Bloemfontein Celtic boss Max Tshabalala has broken his silence about the ongoing sale saga involving his club.
In light of the proposed sale having collapsed and players going on strike this week over unpaid signing-on fees, Tshabalala says he has been made a scapegoat in the latest fiasco.
He has accused the potential buyers of taking advantage of his dire situation, saying the consortium – comprising business partners Sinki Leshabane and Moeketsi Mosola – was in breach of the agreement, given that it initially agreed to be in charge of the club while the deal was pending.
“I [have not been] running the club since the season started,” said Tshabalala.
“I had made it clear that I was struggling financially and these people came and took over the running of the team,” he added.
Tshabalala confirmed the latest strike, saying he also feared the players would boycott their Absa Premiership fixture against Maritzburg United at Dr Petrus Molemela Stadium, scheduled for this afternoon.
“They promised to pay signing-on fees and my money in monthly instalments. They have now reneged on this and I did not say anything,” Tshabalala told City Press on Friday, adding that Leshabane and Mosola had promised to pay the players last Friday.
“They are not even talking to me, all I hear is through the media that they have pulled out. I think they need to come [clean].”
Tshabalala said he had resorted to putting the club up for sale – again – and would go to any bidder, irrespective of their geographical location. He said now that his wish for the club to remain in the Free State had evaporated he would entertain any offer that came his way.
Tshabalala denied hampering the deal.
In a letter addressed to Mosola dated September 3, Tshabalala wrote: “Further to show my willingness to secure this deal, I have instructed your partner Ms Sinki Leshabane that you guys may pay over to SA Revenue Service [Sars] so that the deal can continue smoothly.
“As soon as you have paid the money over to Sars, I will take all the documents to the Premier Soccer League for approval.
“I think I have eased your concern about our deal and hope we will work hand-in-hand to finalise it.”
Leshabane and a Maculisane Investment Holdings were copied in the letter, which also highlighted that Tshabalala had appealed against Sars’ decision to appoint a third party.
“This is to show that I am addressing all the outstanding debts, therefore there is absolutely no reason that should hamper my deal with you,” wrote Tshabalala.
He also reminded the parties that he was only selling the football club, not the entity or its assets and liabilities.
Tshabalala, however, is not impressed.
“I suspect all they wanted was to take the club for free. They wanted to take advantage of my situation, which I think it is not fair.
“I had offers from Cape Town, North West and the Northern Cape, but I turned them down after the supporters pleaded with me for the club to remain in the province. Now this is what I get in return. I know I’m struggling, but people should not try to exploit me and take advantage of my situation,” he said.
Meanwhile, amid Maritzburg United’s struggles, club boss Farook Kadodia has declared his support for coach Fadlu Davids.
The Team of Choice goes in search of a first win against an in-form Celtic in a top-versus-bottom clash this afternoon.
Kadodia maintains that “the coach has done a fantastic job” despite the team’s winless run in five games in all competitions.
United remains the only side without a win this season and are at the bottom of the log.
“Like any other team, we just need a win to turn the corner,” Kadodia said this week.
“I can’t put the team under pressure, the coach has done a fantastic job.”
Despite their off-field problems, Celtic remain unbeaten in five league matches.
In response, Celtic consortium interim chairperson Leshabane said: “I can confirm that our legal representative sent a letter to Mr Max Tshabalala and his legal representative, Mr Mandla Tshabalala, copied that legal authority and the PSL on Tuesday informing them that the deal is off [owing] to failure of financial and legal due diligence.”
Leshabane did not specify which legal authority was copied in the response.
She said for the deal to be resurrected two conditions would have to be met urgently. They are that Tshabalala must:
. Write urgently to that legal authority that he owes money and copy the consortium, informing it that he is handing over the ownership of Bloemfontein Celtic FC to the consortium with immediate effect; and
. State that ownership handover must be based on condition that he has announced to the media that he has negotiated a discount settlement.
“Only then will the consortium even consider this deal as the current one has lapsed. We shall make no further comments on this matter,” said Leshabane.