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Khoza: PSL went through exhaustive process to approve Celtic sale to Royal

PSL chairman Irvin Khoza has said the league's executive committee deliberated extensively before approving the deal for Bloemfontein Celtic to sell their Premiership status to Royal AM.
PSL chairman Irvin Khoza has said the league's executive committee deliberated extensively before approving the deal for Bloemfontein Celtic to sell their Premiership status to Royal AM.
Image: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images

Premier Soccer League (PSL) chair Irvin Khoza, confirming the sale of Bloemfontein Celtic to Royal AM on Tuesday, said the league’s executive committee (exco) deliberated for three days before approving the deal.

Speaking in a televised press conference, Khoza said a major motivation for approving the transaction was not having to go into the 2021-22 season with 15 teams in either the DStv Premiership or GladAfrica Championship (National First Division, or NFD).

“This matter ... took almost three days of executive deliberations, on the 12th, 13th and 14th,” Khoza said of the exco’s decision to approve the sale of Celtic from Max Tshabalala to Royal owner Shauwn Mkhize on Friday.

“What the executive always requires on matters of this nature is that the transition must be seamless, because there are a lot of elements and stakeholders affected. So it’s very important there is strict compliance to Article 14 of the PSL Handbook. The requirements of the Labour Relations Act 66 of 1995 must be complied with.

“A very important issue to — future financial sustainability — is also one of the provisions in the handbook. There are limitations insofar as when you can say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the transaction, and if it’s a non-starter.”

Khoza said there had been a chance of not having 15 teams in the Premiership or NFD, which he said would breach sponsorship and broadcast contracts. The suggestion was that Celtic did not have the funds to continue in the Premiership, while perhaps there was also doubt over AM wanting to continue in the NFD, or even being expelled through an ongoing disciplinary committee (DC) matter.

“The issue of sustainability is a problem. And that is why we make a determination that is critical, regardless of our discomfort, when we do a transaction sometimes,” Khoza said.

“It happened when we dealt with the transactions involving Highlands Park and TS Galaxy, Bidvest Wits and TTM [both before the 2020-21 season], this one also, in terms of making sure we do the right thing.

“Something we consider always, as much as Article 14 says this [too], is the issue of the solvency, insolvency, or risk of insolvency of the club. Because if somebody says, ‘I cannot afford’, what do you do?

“We have been practising something very interesting to say, ‘Offer a team to the community [where it’s from] first.’ If there are no takers what happens next?

“Because as a league we’ve got an obligation to the sponsors that when the league starts you need to have 16 teams in the DStv Premiership and 16 in the GladAfrica Championship. So you’ve got to make a decision.

“Not because of convenience but because of the reality, because if you are not providing that there’s a breach — it’s got its own penalties, it affects our funding model. Which is a problem that besets us every time — we don’t have too many people in our football with deep pockets.”

Royal’s NFD franchise is being sold to Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila (TTM) and its owner, Lawrence Mulaudzi, who in January sold the Premiership franchise he bought from Bidvest Wits within eight months after running into financial difficulties in the top flight.

Royal, displaced as NFD champions by an arbitration award of three points to Sekhukhune United, have suffered several defeats in a protracted court battle to be reinstated winners of that league. They were found guilty on all charges in a DC for refusing to honour their playoff matches, with sentencing due on Saturday.