Bloemfontein Celtic boss eyes NMB Stadium
Cash-strapped Bloemfontein Celtic could play two of their home Premiership League fixtures at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth before year-end if club chair Max Tshabalala gets his way.
The debt-ridden owner is in talks with Nelson Mandela Stadium operators and Safa-NMB to play matches against SuperSport United and Polokwane City in the Bay in November and December.
Tshabalala also said he was in talks with the municipality regarding a possible deal.
Municipal spokesperson Mthubanzi Mniki said he could neither confirm nor deny this.
Tshabalala said: “It is common knowledge that most PSL teams are approaching different municipalities so they can host their games
“Mostly, we are targeting the cities with the World Cup stadiums,” he said.
“We have approached different municipalities, not only Nelson Mandela Bay.
“Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality [NMBM], through the NMB Stadium management company, have agreed to host the two games that are coming on November 28 [SuperSport United] and December 2 [Polokwane City].”
But NMB Stadium commercial head of department Phumulani Hlatshwayo said although there had been talks, no deal had been struck.
“We can confirm that Bloemfontein Celtic have shown interest in staging some of their home fixtures at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
“However, no contracts or deals have been confirmed.”
Mniki was not willing to divulge whether the municipality, which already sponsors Chippa United, had had any discussions with Celtic.
“What I can tell you is that we have no deal with Celtic.
“We do not have any games scheduled except the Chippa United games,” Mniki said.
But Tshabalala was adamant his team would be showcasing itself in the Bay soon.
He said the team’s aim would be to help development in the metro.
“That is why I was in PE a month ago for about two weeks [when] I met all the sport structures, more especially Safa-NMB, to sell the idea.
“Before the game, we want to train at the Wolfson Stadium, which will allow people in the community to come and watch so we can inspire the boys.
“Secondly, through our development structures and coaches, we have a soccer academy for amateur teams so that they can be able to have a few training sessions with our professional soccer coaches.
“We have also approached schools to make sure that we bring soccer alive at schools and this will also help to enhance education.”
Tshabalala said before every game, Celtic would paint Port Elizabeth green and white with posters for their matches.
He believes this will attract more fans to the stadium.
Asked if the deal was a longterm one, he said: “No, for now we are on a trial period.”
Tshabalala‚ believed to be in debt to the tune of between R60m and R70m‚ has been looking for new buyers for his club after a deal fell through in September, amid player strikes and signing-on fees not being paid.
Asked who would carry the stadium costs to stage his matches at the NMB Stadium, he said: “Football carries its own costs. We will come as a team and cover our own costs and then we make sure that people are in the stadium.
“That is how you make your money.
“We are not coming there for handouts – we are coming there to promote football. It’s not about money.”
Safa-NMB president Simphiwe Mkangelwa said: “We welcome Celtic to the Bay if they will bring change to the metro but if their move is only for business purposes then we are not comfortable.”