Arcadia Shepherds FC to lose its stadium after 111 years

10 December 2014 - 11:06 By Penwell Dlamini
BREAKING THROUGH: Former Bafana skipper Bongani Khumalo, left, in action while on loan to Doncaster Rovers
BREAKING THROUGH: Former Bafana skipper Bongani Khumalo, left, in action while on loan to Doncaster Rovers

One of the country's oldest soccer clubs, Arcadia Shepherds FC, will soon be homeless as the City of Tshwane converts its home, Caledonian Stadium, into a park for the public.

Arcadia Shepherds FC says the council's plan is to demolish the stadium, which has been a home to the club for over a century, and has done nothing to consult the club before arriving at such a decision.

The club argues that there is a binding agreement with the council which is enforceable and the city ignored this when it came with its plans to turn the stadium into a park.

Arcadia Shepherds FC once played the National Professional Soccer League and has used the sport facility as its home, through a sub-lease with the Football Association of Pretoria (FAP).

The club has produced great names such as Deshi Bhaktawer, Noel Cousins, Mark Fish and former Bafana Bafana captain Bongani Khumalo.

The stadium, positioned at the entrance of the City Centre was also used by Pretoria City, now Supersport United, as a home ground.

But the years of producing stars and growing football development are coming to an end.

The City of Tshwane says it is “not demolishing the stadium” but will redesign it into an Inner City Park as part of a package of the Landmark and Gateway projects in the city at a cost of R88.3-million.

“We are not demolishing the stadium because it is part of heritage. There will be no sports pitch but the open piece of lawn central to the park will be retained in memory of the original uses of the park as a sports and recreation facility, but also to allow the surrounding residents and other user’s access to a public park with a variety of activities. The commons lawn lends itself to a number of uses such as: picnic area; market space; soccer kick-abouts for small children; and performances,” said Tshwane spokesperson Lebogang Matji.

The date for the construction of the project has yet to be finalised.

But the club's chairman, Lucky Manna, said the council's decision would destroy the club and its long history of football development in the city.

“The city wants to demolish our soccer field and wants to demolish our club. Our club will be no more and will cease to exist. We have been at that facility for 111 years. The name Caledonian comes from our society that started the football....Their new plan, which they never informed any of us, never advertised or (issued) a legal notice, is meant to do away with the soccer field and Arcadia Shepherds,” Manna said.

“We have legal notices and documents pending with the council for the past 11 years that it intended to give us a long-term lease renewable every 9 to 10 years,” he said.

Matji rejected this and said the club's refusal for the upgrade is misplaced and it is “only looking at their own narrow interests while we envisage an inclusive package with multiple uses and benefits for residents, tourists and the city in general”.