The ANC in the Northern Cape has set its sights on buying a club in the Absa Premier Soccer League (PSL) – and it wants taxpayers to foot the bill.
About R30m is to be set aside by the provincial government to buy the team. The new club will be named the Northern Cape Football Club.
ANC Northern Cape provincial secretary Deshi Ngxanga said the idea came up at a provincial executive committee meeting in September.
“We said the Free State is next to us and they have [PSL] soccer teams there, but for us we want to push sports tourism in the province,” said Ngxanga.
If successful, the team will play in SA’s top league against, among others, Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns as soon as next season.
“We then identified a sporting code that might fast-track the issue of sports tourism and that’s when the idea of a soccer team came about.”
Ngxanga said the executive committee then handed the plans for the team to the Northern Cape provincial government to spearhead it and pay for it.
“We assigned the premier [Zamani Saul] to explore this and also negotiate with teams who are willing to sell their status in the PSL to the Northern Cape so that we can acquire a soccer team,” he said.
“We said the government of the Northern Cape province must implement it. The premier has already started this process and has reported to us that they have made progress.”
PSL chief executive Mato Madlala said the league would seek guidance should the proposal reach its offices.
“Let’s start by saying this would be the first of its kind because we have never been approached by any government structures about buying [a club franchise],” she said. “We would have to look at our rules.”
Tebogo Motlanthe, general manager of legal compliance and membership at the South African Football Association (Safa), said in principle there was no rule that prohibited political parties from owning a soccer club.
“They can have ownership and run the club, but it cannot be used as a platform to promote themselves,” he said.
“They cannot use the name of the party as part of the name of the team. They also cannot [use] the colours of the party because that would be tantamount to promotion also.”
ANC national spokesperson Pule Mabe said provincial party structures come up with their own programmes by promoting sporting activities to attract investment and unite people.
Ngxanga said the provincial government “will pay at least something like R30m to acquire the team” and the ANC “will not pay a single cent for it”.
“Some people have even said it [the new team] should be called the Northern Cape Football Club. It should belong to the people.”
Saul said the plan was “a long-term goal and we are still exploring some different options and buying status directly from the PSL – it’s just one [option]”.
“The other option is supporting a Northern Cape team in Mvela League to make a breakthrough to the PSL.
“The whole thing is at its conceptual stage and as far as I’m concerned there is no dedicated budget for that.”
Saul said they were “mainly looking at mobilising business to invest in this venture and we had quite productive engagements with many business people from the province who showed tangible interest.
“The reason is to ensure that the province derives maximum benefits from sports tourism,” he said.
“We need to expose the province to the big soccer fan base that is always prepared to travel and follow their teams.
“That the province did not have a team in PSL for so many years is some injustice we need to stop . We have an abundance of talent and it’s now high time to create opportunities for growth for the soccer players.
“We have a beautiful province that we need to expose to the country and the whole world.”