Frustrated Ajax unsure whether they are an Absa Premiership or NFD team
Ajax Cape Town CEO Ari Efstathiou says the club have been left in limbo ahead of the new 2018/19 season‚ unsure what type of player they need for the new campaign as they watch their potential rivals in both the Premier Soccer League and National First Division strengthen their squads.
Ajax are locked in a protracted battle with the PSL over their status‚ believing their automatic relegation that was a result of an arbitration ruling against them over the Tendai Ndoro matter should and will be overturned.
That has already happened in the South Gauteng High Court‚ but the PSL are seeking leave to appeal the decision‚ leaving Ajax unsure whether they will be a top-flight or second-tier side next season just weeks away from the scheduled start of the campaign.
Efstathiou says they have been working hard to keep the players motivated‚ given that some would likely want to move in this next transfer window if the club is to feature in the NFD.
“We have got to try and keep them in the frame of mind of being professional wherever they play. I met with them on Monday to try and explain the situation.
"We are trying to keep them focused on the field and not off the field‚” Efstathiou said.
“But you can imagine the confusion in their minds‚ not knowing whether they will be playing in the PSL or the NFD.”
He adds that the club has been to a certain extent hamstrung in the transfer market as they look to rebuild their squad.
“We are trying to ascertain how to strengthen the squad. Do we strengthen with PSL type players or NFD type players?
“Do we go to the expense of bringing in PSL-earning players into an NFD structures? Or do we bring NFD-earning players into a PSL structure?
“We are sitting in limbo and have been for the last however long while all the other clubs have been active in the market strengthening their squads.
“At the end of the day we have to make a decision now and go into a high-risk situation where we have to try and get players that can play in both divisions.
“But it is hard enough getting players that can play in one division‚ let alone both. So that is our predicament.”
Efstathiou adds he does not believe that Ajax will be ostracised by the rest of the league over their fight with the PSL‚ which includes their announcement on Tuesday that they would interdict the start of the league season with the intention to have it postponed.
“It is important to keep my personal relationships going and I make a huge effort to do that.
"But it’s not easy and as you can understand when you are in a fight‚ you tend to step on areas you will find difficult to maneuver around‚” he said.
“But an important issue that I have made a special point of mentioning is that this is not a personal issue‚ it’s a business issue that needs to be dealt with on a level where we must not look at our personal relationships.
“The chairman has acknowledged that‚ I have spoken to him about it on several occasions and he has been extremely good about it.
"He has kept business and the personal issues apart completely. I have no problem buying or selling players to any of the clubs.”
Ajax are accused of fielding Ndoro despite the fact that they were his third club of the last campaign‚ in contravention of FIFA regulations.
The club admitted they “slipped-up” with the rule‚ but say the punishment handed down to them in arbitration was unprecedented and overly harsh.