Ajax settle with PSL in relegation dispute, but refuse to give details

07 February 2019 - 07:00
By Nick Said
Ajax Cape Town CEO Ari Efstathiou.
Image: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images Ajax Cape Town CEO Ari Efstathiou.

Ajax Cape Town have reached an undisclosed settlement with the Premier Soccer League over their relegation from the Absa Premiership at the end of the 2017/18 season, CEO Ari Efstathiou confirmed to TimesLIVE.

Ajax had been involved in a legal wrangle with the PSL after they were docked points for fielding Zimbabwe international striker Tendai Ndoro last season. The club was Ndoro’s third club of the campaign, a contravention of Fifa regulations.

Those lost points saw them finish bottom of the league table. This season they are campaigning in the National First Division.

Ajax have insisted all along that they were given permission to use Ndoro by the PSL’s own Dispute Resolution Chamber, but have now conceded that fighting on is futile given the legal process that could see them tied up in the courts for the next four or five years.

“I cannot disclose any details, but we have settled with the league,” Efstathiou said. “We still think what happened is completely unfair, but ultimately, by the time we had been through the legal process, even if we were successful, we might be back in the premiership in any event.

“So then you are talking about a damages claim and you start the whole thing all over again. You might win the war, but can you imagine the costs? We decided to rather take those funds and put them into trying to win promotion.”

Efstathiou explained the process that could have seen the matter tied up until as late as 2024 or beyond that.

“The dates we were given to hear the leave of appeal of the judgment was May 23 and 24 this year. The timeframe for them to come back with a verdict is anything from six to 12 weeks, but let’s say eight weeks. That takes us to the end of July.

“Whoever lost that would then take the matter to the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein. And you must first apply, which is a three- or four-month process. So then we are in November 2019. It could take 12 months to hear that appeal, taking us to November 2020. The likelihood then was that the matter would be sent to Fifa, who would say the matter must be heard at a local level.

“So then we are in January 2021… and whoever is unsuccessful in that matter can take it to Safa [SA Football Association] on appeal. By then we are in May 2021 and if we come out of that process successful, all you are realistically talking about is a damages claim.

“They cannot put us in the play-offs, it is not practical, and by then we might be back in the premiership in any event. So what are we fighting on for?

“With a damages claim, you have to start the whole process again and we would probably only get to a result in 2023 or 2024. And then it might not fall in our favour," he said.

Ajax are back on course for promotion this season, having made a horror start under former coach Muhsin Ertugral.

Since the arrival of Dutch tactician Andries Ulderink, they have won six out of seven league games and are up to second in the division, seven points behind leaders Stellenbosch FC, with 11 games to play.