The article “Home matches away Benni is irate over soccer ‘in exile’” (December 1) refers. The City was not approached for comment and would like to present its side of the story in the interest of fairness.
I am quite flabbergasted by this about-turn by Cape Town City Football Club (CTCFC), which comes on the back of a CTCFC press article thanking and commending City officials and me personally for our support and willingness to go the extra mile. This about-turn is dishonest as it does not reflect the facts. While it is regrettable that Cape Town cannot, through sheer demand, host every premier sporting event at the Cape Town Stadium, and we note CTCFC’s concerns, we feel bound to point out that the match in question was always scheduled to be played at the Athlone Stadium.
CTCFC was informed well in advance that Cape Town Stadium wasn’t available.
Every effort has been made to protect and improve the pitch in the face of the worst drought in Cape Town’s living memory. Our communications with Safa, the PSL and Ajax, Cape Town’s other premier soccer team, allowed Ajax to host the match last week.
CTCFC subsequently asked if we would engage with Saru to make an exception regarding Cape Town Stadium and in addition the availability of Newlands Stadium. We did, and the answer was negative on both fronts. The Sevens is an international event scheduled a year in advance that requires a comprehensive set-up, and most importantly, we hand the venue over to Saru and guarantee the pitch’s condition. Newlands has already started its remedial work and is not playable.
CTCFC then requested that we assist them with a letter to the PSL asking for the game to be played away. We obliged and did not turn them away. We reiterate that they asked for our support to get permission to play elsewhere.
The City and the Cape Town Stadium team have always made every effort to assist the club wherever possible. CTCFC was allowed access to the stadium to have multiple training sessions in preparation for the 2017 MTN final, which was part of the City’s commitment and support for the team. CTCFC must be honest with supporters and not unfairly attack the City.