Sport on by Mogan Segadavan
THE Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality could be in a pickle once again.
But this time it is not of its own making.
In September Bay Stars Football Club was launched at a glittering ceremony attended by Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture MEC Xoliswa Tom, mayor Zanoxolo Wayile, Safa Nelson Mandela Bay president Mzimkhulu Fina, EP Rugby president Cheeky Watson and representatives from various organisations.
According to announcements made at the launch the club which is playing in the Vodacom League is owned by local businessmen Yusuf Adams and Tony Lovegrove, in partnership with the municipality.
After the launch all Stars press releases came from Kupido Baron from the municipal communications department.
Meanwhile, unknown to the soccer followers, another team playing in the same league as Stars quietly appeared on the scene after buying the franchise of an existing club from the former Transkei.
Highbury has been operating under the radar and it is still not clear who owns the team managed by former EP Soccer Board player, Wilfred Prince.
With the emergence of Highbury the municipality’s support of Stars could be questioned.
Would it be fair to support one club and not the other from public coffers?
Running a Vodacom League club is not cheap. All the club gets from Safa is R20000 a year to cover travelling expenses. The money is paid in two instalments, at the beginning of the season and at the end.
Since the existence of Highbury became public knowledge the press releases still come from Baron BUT in his personal capacity and not from the communications department.
A couple of years ago the municipality pledged R1-million to help local clubs in the same league in which Stars and Highbury are now playing.
There was controversy when a municipal official (who was the owner of one of the clubs) was involved with the allocations and convinced the municipality to give his team the lion’s share of the grant although the team was not performing as well as the other teams.
Since then all the clubs involved have fallen by the wayside.
Does the municipality continue supporting Stars or will it extend that support (in whatever form) to Highbury as well?