PLANS to bring KwaZulu-Natal PSL team Maritzburg United to Nelson Mandela Bay have been called off after the city missed the May 18 PSL deadline to secure the team playing all its home games in the Bay.
Presenting the 2012/13 draft budget to council yesterday, acting chief financial officer Selwyn Thys said the municipality had received a letter from the stadium operator – Access Management – that the deal was officially off and would not be further pursued for the 2013 PSL season.
While she would not be drawn into discussions about who was responsible for missing the deadline, Access Management spokeswoman Buli Ngomane said they had merely informed the municipality that they had missed the deadline.
"But we are still working hard to secure a tenant in the future. It was to let them know that the window of opportunity to secure the team for the PSL season had passed.”
Maritzburg United chairman Farouk Kadodia said yesterday, however, there was "never a serious initiative from the metro to get our team to relocate”.
"I was only called by the stadium operator to say they were keen to have us play there
"We never received calls from the municipality ... about getting us there.”
Attempts to secure Maritzburg United have been a bone of contention for opposition political parties, who felt it would put further pressure on an already strained public purse.
The municipality was said to have offered the PSL side R20- million to play all their home matches here.
This comes on the back of the city forking out R11.8-million earlier this year to host nine PSL soccer matches at the stadium. The municipality has reportedly paid R750000 per match to Maritzburg United for the three matches recently played in the Bay.
While it has been refuted by Thys, Kadodia previously confirmed that a R20-million offer over three years had been received for the club to play all their home matches in the Bay.
DA councillor Leon de Villiers has on several occasions probed the municipality about an amount of R20-million set aside in the adjustments budget for sports development, but Thys has continually denied there is such an amount.
Yesterday, however, Thys said the R20-million was not committed to anything specific and could therefore be used to address service delivery issues in the Bay, or it could be set aside toward hosting the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon).
This was blasted by all political parties, who said there could not be R20-million on the budget that was not committed while the metro had several service delivery challenges.
The city has committed to co-host Afcon at a cost of R30-million. The municipality is yet to receive communication from the provincial government on its promise to co-sponsor the event.