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Bloemfontein Celtic might cease existing with club’s sale, relocation imminent

Staff Reporter

Bloemfontein Celtic are likely to cease existing, leaving the Free State without a top-flight football team, if a deal to sell the club sails through.

Tim Sukazi, who has reportedly tabled a R60-million offer to buy Celtic’s ABSA Premier Soccer League (PSL) status, has confirmed he will relocate the side to Mpumalanga if the proposed acquisition is finalised.

The name of the team would also change, he said, a development that will leave the thousands of Siwelele supporters devastated.

“Yes, people in Mpumalanga are now very excited about the prospect of having a team in the PSL,” Sukazi, a lawyer who also owns National First Division side TS Galaxy, was quoted as saying by Kick Off.

“They are really looking forward to it, more especially communities in KwaNdebele where the strong base of our supporters is situated,” he added.

Sukazi said there was no possibility of keeping the club in Bloemfontein.

“No, the team will definitely relocate but that won’t mean we will abandon the supporters in Bloemfontein,” he said.

“I have a special admiration for those supporters and will certainly come up with something special for them.

“At the end of the day they have been worried for some time about the team’s state of affairs and will be happy to see a move that will rescue the team.

“Like I said, I’ve always loved Celtic supporters and we will certainly come up with something special for them.

“As a supporter it’s not nice to see your team going through difficulty. So our coming on board will put away a number of those difficulties.”

Celtic have been hurtling from one financial crisis to another over the years, forcing current owner Max Tshabalala to put the club up for sale.

Several proposals to buy the team’s PSL status have previously failed to materialise.

Sukazi is, however, confident of sealing a deal by May 31.

“I have not as yet directly engaged with Celtic fans because we first need to reach the financial closure on the deal, which is scheduled for the end of this month,” he said.

Celtic’s lawyer, Mandla Tshabalala, confirmed the club was locked in negotiations with Sukazi and others who are also proposing to take over the Bloemfontein side.

“We are waiting for Mr Sukazi to give us proof of funds,” Mandla, who is also the cousin of the Celtic owner Max Tshabalala, was quoted as saying by Soccer Laduma.

“The Premier Soccer League will be involved in this much later when the two parties have signed, and payments are made – PSL is the last step.

“We are going to need to see proof of funds, either a bank guarantee or money in his trust account then we can begin the process, such as due diligence and whether it is feasible for him to take the team.

“But until we can reach that stage because everyone wants to buy a PSL team and might not have the money, we can’t take this any further. ‘

“Mr Sukazi has made an offer and it’s not the first time.

“It’s not just him. I can’t mention others, but there are several, who are still very quiet about it because of confidentiality.”

Bloemfontein Celtic were founded by Norman Mathobisa and Victor Mahatane in 1969.

The duo ran the club until the early 1980s when financial challenges forced them to sell the side to Petrus “Whitehead” Molemela.

After the relegation of Phunya Sele Sele, in November 2001, Molemela sold his shares in the club to Demetri “Jimmy” Augousti, a former Celtic player.

After only three years out of the top-flight, the club regained their PSL status with an impressive season in 2003/04 when they were crowned First Division champions.

They also managed to win the 2005 SA Supa 8 and the 2007 Telkom Charity Cup.

Max Tshabalala, who also owns Roses United, took over from Augousti in July 2014.

Celtic are currently the only PSL team in the province after the relegation of Free State Stars last season.

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