Scramble to minimise losses at iconic 94‚000-seat 2010 World Cup venue FNB Stadium

Football loving fans arriving at the stadium during the Absa Premiership match between Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs at FNB Stadium. File photo.
Football loving fans arriving at the stadium during the Absa Premiership match between Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs at FNB Stadium. File photo.
Image: Gallo Images

Stadium Management South Africa (SMSA) are scrambling to minimise losses that will see FNB Stadium potentially lose tens of millions of Rands in 2020 due to professional football and events having ground to a halt.

Kaizer Chiefs are the anchor football tenant of FNB‚ the iconic 94‚000-seat 2010 World Cup venue which is the fourth-largest soccer stadium in the world.

Premier Soccer League (PSL) football is in limbo with the 2019-20 season suspended on March 16‚ and the current national lockdown in response to the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak in South Africa.

SMSA‚ which oversees FNB‚ relies on big events to supplement the income for the stadium and balance the books‚ and all those currently‚ including two big Easter church gatherings this past weekend‚ have been cancelled until July 15.

“I can’t tell you that at the moment what the losses will be [for FNB Stadium]‚” SMSA managing director Bertie Grobbelaar told TimesLIVE.

“But that we are losing money – yes‚ we are at a rate of knots.

“The difference to the other stadia is that they get supported by the municipalities. Our agreement with the city is that we manage the stadium and are responsible for the upkeep. We are responsible for the stadium to balance the books.

“There are some big ticket items – like if the roof goes – that the city would pay for. It’s the only stadium management company on that deal‚ and everything’s ground to a halt now.

“So what we’re currently busy with is planning on assumptions. All the event categorisations have been withdrawn‚ and that is most probably until July 15 that they will only consider events dependent on government regulations.

“Once you get the event categorised you still need some months to plan. For example‚ a big concert event‚ you can’t plan that in a month. So at this point we are unsure if any of our events for this year will continue.”

Grobbelaar said if the lockdown does come to an end by mid-year‚ SMSA will hope to recoup some lost costs by rescheduling events to later in 2020.

“We have had discussions with event organisers to rather postpone events‚ and not to cancel‚” he said.

“One now needs to juggle all of that‚ looking at staff deployment and employment. At what point do you say we need to go on limited hours‚ at what point do you consider temporary layoffs‚ at what point retrenchments?

“It’s impossible to give a clear indication of the losses now‚ because there are a lot of commercial deals involved too. There are sponsorship‚ advertising and branding and suite owner agreements.

“All our planning is based on assumptions‚ and that you’re going to get all the income you’re entitled to in terms of agreements.

“Kaizer Chiefs are important to us‚ not only from a revenue but a relationship perspective. But not as a standalone event revenue‚ as we do also have the others. We see Chiefs as a partner to Stadium Management‚ and I believe in this together and suffer together.”

Grobbelaar said there has not been an indication yet‚ given FNB Stadium is a city and provincial entity‚ of a government financial bailout.

“Not yet. But I must say‚ we are partners with the City of Joburg in the management of the stadium. We are in discussions with them in terms of seeing where they can assist. And we’ve got a very positive relationship with them.

“They’re assisting us tremendously in the planning phases. And hopefully something is forthcoming from government in the near future.”

SMSA also administer Orlando Pirates’ 40‚000-capacity home ground Orlando Stadium and 30‚000-seat Rand Stadium‚ Pirates’ training venue.


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