Ricky Zililo Senior Sports Reporter—
TSHOLOTSHO FC benefactor Mandla Manyathela has allegedly relinquished ownership of the club to the community citing financial challenges. Sources said in a bid to save Tsholotsho FC, who are in their second season in the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League, from sinking, the community, through the Rural District Council (RDC), had decided to take over the club.
It also emerged that the Tsholotsho RDC, local businesspeople and other prominent people that hail from the area, who include Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo, had been financially backing the club.
Sources said after realising that Manyathela was struggling to fund the team, the other benefactors felt the community could not continue funding an individual project and a new ownership structure was drawn up. The proposed new structure has seen chiefs and businesspeople being roped into the club’s board.
“The community, represented by councillors and businesspeople, has actually taken over the running of the club through a new board. The general belief is that the community can’t continue supporting an individual’s project. The board set to guide the club includes Mandla Manyathela and his wife Sithokozile, Chief Matupula, businessmen Gift Nkomo, Believe Gaule and Maliwa Dube. Gaule is the board chairman, according to the new leadership structure, while council chairman Alois Ndebele and Sicelo Dube are ex-officio board members,” said a source.
This publication has it on good authority that the new Tsholotsho FC board will meet either on Thursday or Friday after which the new ownership structure would be announced. Manyathela pleaded ignorance yesterday. “Who told you? I’m not aware of that,” he said.
Gaule also declined to comment. “I’m attending a meeting and can’t comment,” he said. Tsholotsho RDC chief executive officer Themba Moyo confirmed that the community is taking over the club.
“Tsholotsho FC has always been a community team and the plan is to formalise everything. Please be patient, we’ll let you know the position once the process of handing over the club to the community has been completed,” said Moyo.
Manyathela took over the club from Melusi Ndebele at the beginning of 2009 when it was still known as Tsholotsho Pirates and changed the name to Tsholotsho FC. They made it into Division One in 2012 and won promotion into the PSL at the end of the 2014 season.
In their maiden topflight season, Tsholotsho FC finished 12th and are precariously sitting on 14th position presently, with eight points, just two points ahead of Mutare City Rovers who occupy the last relegation slot.
Tsholotsho have a number of good players that include skipper and centre-back William Stima, right-back MacClive Phiri, defensive midfielder Butholezwe Ncube, attacking midfielders Kriess Chitiyo and Ocient Ncube and strikers Simbarashe Gorogodyo and Dylan Chivandire, who are capable of pulling them out of the drop zone they are hovering around.