Baroka FC rocked by court action

22 August 2011 - 02:43 By KHETHIWE CHELEMU

Frustrated at being given the runaround by the owners of Baroka Football Club, wingers Katlego Mashego and Msimeci Baloyi have turned to the courts in a bid to be declared free agents.

The duo, recently signed by Absa Premiership division club Free State Stars, have also taken their grievances to the SA Football Association's dispute resolution committee. A hearing has been scheduled for tomorrow.

This week, the players will lodge an urgent application in the Johannesburg High Court against Baroka Football Club, their new team Free State Stars, SA Football Association and National Soccer League to declare them free agents and issue them with clearance certificates.

They claim in court papers that Vodacom League club Baroka FC is withholding their clearance certificates in an attempt to force their new club to pay transfer fees or "compensation of some sort".

But their former boss, Khurishi Mphahlele, said he was happy to meet the two players in court.

"I do not care, they can take me to court. I will not answer to something I do not know," he said.

They claim that without the clearance certificates, they will be unable to play as professional footballers and will only be eligible to register in January next year, preventing them from supporting themselves and their families between now and then.

The pair signed contracts with Free State Stars effective from July 1 to June next year, but they accuse Baroka of ignoring their pleas to release them and of deliberately trying to frustrate their careers.

"It is essential that we are able to find employment as professional footballers while we are still good enough to do so," they said in court papers. "If we are prevented from working now, we will certainly lose our present employment, entire future and ability to support ourselves and our dependents."

They say Baroka FC has no good reason to refuse their demands.

"Our employment with Free State Stars is subject to our being registered by the soccer league," they said.

SA Football Association spokesman Nathi Ngcobo said his organisation would not oppose the matter and would abide by the processes of the court.

"The dispute is not between [us] and the players, but between the players and their team," he said.

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