Celtic players thanking their supporters afterwards the Absa Premiership bout amid Bloemfontein Celtic and Platinum Stars at Kaizer Sebothelo Stadium on 6 April 2014 in Botshabelo, South Africa. (Photo: Charle Lombard / Gallo Images)
First appear in the Daily Maverick 168 annual newspaper.
The first, generally added nefarious, acumen would be aback said bodies were accessory a case at the Supreme Cloister of Appeal, the second-highest cloister in the land.
The other, added virtuous, acumen would be the final day of Macufe, Bloemfontein’s flagship antic festival. It consistently concluded on a aerial with bounded heroes Bloem Celtic arena Kaizer Chiefs for the Sparta Macufe Cup, in a one-off “winner takes all” football showcase.
But with the achievement of a pen and a cheque for R50-million – for that is what the parties complex accounted to be the absolute annual of 52 years of antic and cultural ancestry – all that is gone now.
Controversial KwaZulu-Natal business-person Shauwn Mkhize has bought Bloem Celtic, renamed it Royal AM and relocated the club to Durban, area its matches will booty place this season.
This arbitrary yet acknowledged convenance of affairs and affairs Premiership football cachet in the aristocratic Premier Soccer Alliance (PSL) is annihilation new. It is generally the bottle of “tenderpreneurs”, the nouveau riche who accept acquired their abundance by angle or by cheat and appetite to authenticate aloof how abysmal their pockets are. This may or may not be what has happened here, but the signs are all too accessible to be ignored.
It has happened afore and it will absolutely appear again, but what is not bright are the rules of assurance aback such affairs are done.
In England, which has one of the best accepted and advantageous aristocratic football leagues in the world, there is a action alleged the “owners’ and directors’ test”. This is acclimated to scrutinise those intending to buy clubs and bottle the candor of the game. Locally, it is not assertive what guidelines, if any, exist.
What is a fact, though, is that football is South Africa’s civic sport, capturing the hearts and minds of all and sundry, and companies abatement over anniversary added to sponsor and adjust their articles and casework to football teams and players.
Bloem Celtic accept become the latest victims of this practice, with their Premiership cachet – and, by extension, the club itself – accepting been bought aloof a few canicule into the new season. The buyers are the owners of Royal AM, one of the best baroque clubs to appear in the civic Aboriginal Division, clearly accepted as the GladAfrica Championship.
Neither the owners nor Royal AM are new to controversy. They were afresh answerable for assorted transgressions and evidently “bringing the bold into disrepute”. They were begin accusable of all accuse by the PSL’s antidotal committee, and were still apprehension their abuse aback this transaction was accustomed by the league’s controlling committee. Dubious, right? Right.
This transaction has larboard a absinthian aftertaste in the mouths of abounding football aficionados, and not aloof those who accurate Bloem Celtic.
To put it into context, the club was founded in 1969 and it has been recognised as one of the founding clubs of the PSL aback in 1997.
Celtic had alone been relegated once, in 2001, and afterwards a three-year absence bounced aback in style, regaining PSL cachet in the 2003-2004 division and acceptable the SAA Supa 8 in 2005.
Celtic’s adherent supporters affectionately alleged them Phunya Sele Sele, acquired from the best Phunya sele sele bana bao shebile, which is anticipation to accept originally referred to one of their brilliant players but came to accommodate the accomplished team.
It was fine-tuned to Phunya sele sele bantwana bao shebile, but the acceptation backward the same: “Score adjoin the opponent, the ladies are watching you.” Actuality it is bright that the admirers absitively – and had the final say – in what their club would be called.
The admirers themselves, alleged Siwelele, acquired a acceptability as archetypal football supporters, advantageous the annual of lovers of the admirable bold all over the country as the quintessential 12th player, singing and dancing from alpha to finish, behindhand of whether the aggregation was acceptable or not.
I lived in Bloemfontein from 2012 until 2017. As anon as I arrived, I bought my green-and-white-striped replica shirt at a bounded abundance and abounding football matches whenever I could.
I went to matches in the Free State Rugby Stadium, in the above Seisa Ramabodu Stadium, the club’s official home arena that was renamed in 2015 afterwards its much-loved above buyer to become the Dr Petrus Molemela Stadium, and one time, alike in the Mmabana Stadium in Thaba ’Nchu.
Before affective there, I had heard admirable belief about Siwelele – and they were all true. I learnt the songs, at atomic the genitalia I could pronounce. I learnt the dances, or the genitalia my two larboard anxiety could manage.
I enjoyed every moment of actuality amid the vivacious, beatific and ever-colourful Siwelele. The brotherhood and football ability were additional to none.
The supporters composed songs of amore for their team, their players and alike for their opponents. They choreographed busy dances, creating a rich, actual and abstract cultural and antic heritage.
Phunya Sele Sele were added than a football team. They were the “soul of the city”.
But this will be no more. The PSL is accounted to be the richest and best professionally run alliance on the African continent, and it has, as usual, put profits afore people.
The academic annual accustomed was that, if the auction had not happened in the way it did and as apace as it did, there would accept been alone 15 teams aggressive in the PSL.
There were no accessible accord processes, no appulse assessments. There were no beat affairs with fans. For a “legacy football club”, it is the atomic that could accept been done.
Fans were bent blind and – I achievement I’m amiss actuality – the likelihood of their rebirthing addition Bloem Celtic seems a near-impossible task.
Going forward, a set of rules charge be developed. The alpha charge be a antic or football bunched that charge booty into annual the articulation of the custodians of the game, the supporters, afore that of any added stakeholders. Siwelele, for their enduring addition to the PSL football culture, deserve no less.
What has been absent is not aloof Bloemfontein Celtic Football Club, but that angelic affiliation able over years amid the Siwelele and Phunya Sele Sele.
Some critics accept said the auction will accept an adverse appulse on the academic economy, with the Dr Petrus Molemela Stadium, adapted for added than R400-million and endemic by the Mangaung municipality, acceptable a white elephant. Hotels, absolute acreage and retail will all booty a knock.
Heartbreakingly, the breezy economy, the people, mostly atramentous women who relied on Celtic’s football matches to advertise aliment and accouterments to abutment their families, accept been larboard aerial and dry.
What cannot be denied is that the affairs and alteration of Bloem Celtic to KwaZulu-Natal will accept abiding effects, some of which we cannot yet fathom.
Those orchestrating the “palace coup” or “hostile takeover” that accustomed this to appear charge be declared in these agreement for history to almanac what absolutely happened.
In the hearts and minds of the Siwelele, it is a case of Phunya Sele Sele are dead. Long alive Phunya Sele Sele. DM168
This commodity was aboriginal appear by New Frame.
This adventure aboriginal appeared in our annual Daily Maverick 168 bi-weekly which is accessible for R25 at Pick n Pay, Exclusive Books and airport bookstores. For your abutting stockist, amuse bang here.
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