Heading into the new DSTV Premiership season, there are several new names to look out for in the league, such as Royal AM and Marumo Gallants. The purchasing of league status in South African football has been a practice for quite a long time. Take a look back to 1996, you’ll see when Kwazulu Natal based club Crystal Brains sold their status to Michau Warriors that was based in Gqeberha.
Over decades it is still an ongoing practice, in recent times we saw the oldest club in South African football Bidvest Wits selling their status to Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila (TTM) based in Thohoyandou Limpopo, within one season of top-flight football, TTM then sold their status to Limpopo businessman Dr Abram Sello who named the team Marumo Gallants FC.
The most recent example saw iconic South African club Bloemfontein Celtic is sold to businesswoman Shauwn Mkhize known as MaMkhize and it became Royal AM. The club actually missed out on DSTV Premiership football last season but then decided to buy their way into the top flight
Although South African football has grown and developed in a business sense over the years, it is obvious other aspects of the game in the country suffers tremendously because of it. Bidvest Wits was established in 1921, the oldest team in the Premier Soccer League with so much history and great development structures that contributed to South African football, suddenly the club and its legacy vanished in an instant and was renamed as TTM. It’s no exception for Bloemfontein Celtic, which had die-hard supporters, singing and cheering their team even when they lose. The fans of Celtic were known as some of the most ardent supporters in the league.
The South African football fraternity will live with the loss of the rich history, legacy and sense of belonging of supporters who find themselves having to find new teams to support. A sad state of affairs and confusing for the casual viewer of South African football.