Sikhumbuzo Moyo Senior Sports Reporter
Tsholotsho Rural District Council is planning to take over Castle Lager Premier Soccer League relegation escapees Tsholotsho FC. The local authority wants to take over 80 percent of the shares, leaving just 20 percent to the club owner Mandla Manyathela. Sources within the council said councillors will soon pass a resolution to take over the club, a move likely to be resisted by the Manyathela camp, which has been funding the team from the lower leagues until it was promoted into the PSL last year.
“Councillors, some of who are co-founders of the club, have decided to take control of the club. From what we gather, the council wants an 80 percent controlling stake leaving Manyathela with 20 percent shares,” said the source.
Tsholotsho RDC chief executive officer Themba Moyo could not be reached for comment, but club chairman Mlamuli Phiri denied that council will take a controlling stake, although it may come on board.
“Tsholotsho RDC isn’t taking over the club as such but what we’ve agreed, although not yet official, is that they come on board so that they appreciate the needs of the club. The stadium is being built because of Tsholotsho FC and since it’s in their territory and under their jurisdiction, we thought it was wise to give a stake to the council but not 80 percent that some are talking about,” said Phiri.
In the event Tsholotsho FC is taken over, it will become the fourth municipality owned team in the 2016 PSL campaign after Harare City and newly promoted sides Bulawayo City and Mutare City United from the Eastern Region. Manyathela has been the sole owner of the team, whose existence was threatened after Manyathela’s supermarket was razed down by fire in April.
The timely intervention by Tsholotsho North MP and Higher Education Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo saw the team fulfilling all its matches.
There were also reports in August that the club was on the verge of a huge sponsorship deal involving giant South African pay-per-view television station Supersport. The South African broadcaster had reportedly been impressed by its fairytale rise from the dusty grounds of rural Tsholotsho to the green turf of Barbourfields Stadium and wanted to use the club as an inspirational story to market its brand in Zimbabwe and on the continent.
The premier sports broadcaster wholly owns South African Premiership side Supersport United where former Dynamos defender Kaitano Tembo is an assistant coach.