South Africa’s AmaZulu FC win promotion by buying league champions

AmaZulu

AmaZulu have played in the PSL for 15 of its 21 seasons since 1996

South Africa’s Football Association president will meet the country’s Premier League about big clubs buying their way into the top flight.

It comes after South Africa’s Premier Soccer League (PSL) allowed AmaZulu FC to purchase National First Division champions Thanda Royal Zulu FC.

AmaZulu, who finished fifth and missed out on promotion, will move Thandu 100 miles to their ground in Durban, rename them AmaZulu and take their place in the Premiership.

“We are not against the sale of franchises,” said Danny Jordaan.

“Sometimes owners cannot afford the costs associated with running a PSL club. What we do object to is the relocation of clubs in the process.”

Nothing new for South African football

It is the second time the Durban-based team, who have been relegated four times from the Premiership, have bought their way back into the top flight.

In 2005, Usuthu (AmaZulu) bought the franchise of Dynamos and only survived relegation at the end of that season via the play-offs. They have tried unsuccessfully over the past two seasons to win promotion back to the PSL.

The sale is nothing new in South African football. Last year, Cape Town City took over the franchise of Mpumalanga Black Aces in the sixth such transaction since the formation of the PSL in 1996.

Ironically, Thanda also bought their way into the top flight in 2006 when they bought the franchise of Premier United.

At the start of last season, a consortium representing Moroka Swallows, one of South Africa’s oldest and most famous clubs, narrowly failed to take over Free State Stars, this after the 70-year-old club suffered a third consecutive relegation to fall into the provincial amateur league.

‘Look at PSG, Chelsea and Manchester City’

Danny Jordaan<!–

Danny Jordaan says he will meet the PSL

Jordaan expressed his reservations saying he will be meeting the PSL to discuss the sale of franchises and the need to spread clubs around the country.

“It’s a fact that buying and selling of franchises in today’s economic times is part of the global game – you only need to look at clubs like Paris St-Germain, Chelsea, Manchester City and many others around the world who have changed ownership and shareholding,” he told BBC Sport.

“However, it’s important to note they have not relocated or changed their names.

“We run the risk of having all our top-flight clubs being concentrated in one area – Gauteng already has six clubs in the 16-team PSL – rather than spreading the teams to all parts of the country.”

The sale has caused widespread outrage among fans and the footballing public who believe the integrity of the game has been damaged by clubs buying their way into the top flight.

Thanda goalkeeper Xolani Ngcobo, told a local website the players’ interests were not taken into account after they fought so hard to win automatic promotion.

“It’s painful after so much effort one put in and, at the end of the day, those efforts were about helping Usuthu (AmaZulu).

“It will also take some time for me to get over this because I’ll have to do it all over again to get another promotion, which is not easy.”

Thanda’s fans and the local Umhlathuze municipality, which reportedly spent just over $1m (£57,400) to improve the floodlights at the local stadium, are also angry over the sale.

The municipality, which had also agreed a sponsorship with the club amounting to just over $1.1m over the next three years, is contemplating legal action but the threat has yet to materialise.

AmaZulu, who are coached by Zimbabwean Joey Antipas, will be hoping to avoid being relegated for a fifth time while in terms of the PSL rules, Thanda’s place in the second tier has been taken by the newly formed Richard’s Bay FC.

South Africa’s AmaZulu FC win promotion by buying league champions

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