New twist in promotion debacle: Sekhukhune insist they did not serve the PSL with court papers
The promotion debacle playing out in the lower tier took another twist on Monday after it emerged that Sekhukhune United is not the mysterious party behind the action that saw the Premier Soccer League (PSL) served with court papers at the weekend.
The final outcome of the race for automatic promotion remains up in the air after the PSL announced shortly after the completion of the final round of matches that it had been served with court papers in relation to an arbitration award‚ which has implications for the GladAfrica Championship standings.
Royal AM‚ who are top of the standings after the final round of matches‚ declined to comment when asked by TimesLIVE on Monday if they were behind the court action.
Karabo Tshabuse‚ who is the instructing attorney for the Sekhukhune legal team‚ said her client was as shocked as the nation's soccer lovers when the PSL made the announcement on Sunday.
Tshabuse distanced the Limpopo club from the apparent court action.
“As I’m speaking to you now on Monday‚ I can categorically and unequivocally state that Sekhukhune has not lodged any papers or served the league with any court papers‚” said Tshabuse.
Asked for their plan of action‚ Tshabuse said Sekhukhune will adopt a wait-and-see approach‚ for now‚ but did not rule out launching a court action of their own.
“It is definitely not Sekhukhune who has lodged the court papers. However‚ that does not exclude the chance that Sekhukhune will lodge papers having regards to either the compliance or non-compliance of the league to take effect to the arbitration award.”
Tshabuse said the PSL had not shared the court papers with Sekhukhune as of midday on Monday‚ and that her client was waiting for the league to do so.
“We have regard for the statement released by the PSL [on Friday] before the games and we are shocked because we are party to that arbitration award‚ but we were not served with papers.
“We are waiting to be served with those papers as an affected party. We don’t even know what court action it is‚ if it is a review or an appeal.”
An arbitrator ruled in Sekhukhune’s favour last week in the dispute involving Polokwane City‚ who were found guilty and in contravention of the league’s rules after they failed to field the stipulated number of five Under-23 players during a match against their Limpopo rivals in January.
The ruling‚ if enforced‚ would have catapulted Sekhukhune from second to top of the table due to their superior goal difference ahead of the final-day matches on Sunday.
But the league complicated the matter ahead of the matches on Friday after its executive committee met and resolved to challenge the arbitrator’s decision to award the three points to Sekhukhune over Polokwane’s transgressions.
On Sunday‚ Royal celebrated with conviction that they were the Championship winners after their home 1-1 draw against Cape Town All Stars earned them the point they needed to clinch automatic promotion.
Sekhukhune crushed JDR Stars 3-1 but it was not enough as they finished on 50 points‚ a point behind Royal.
But the Limpopo club could still be crowned champions if the arbitration award is enforced.
In an embarrassing incident‚ both Sekhukhune and Royal were seen on TV celebrating and claiming the Championship top honours as the PSL scrambles to expeditiously resolve the matter.
In an interesting twist‚ Royal CEO Sinky Mnisi declined to comment when asked if it was the Pietermaritzburg-based club that served the PSL with papers.
“I can’t comment on that‚” said Mnisi. “What I can comment on is that we are top of the log and Sekhukhune is second. We got to be champions on the field of play in terms of fair play.”
The Royal CEO also appeared to suggest that Polokwane City are involved in the said court action.
“What I am saying is the teams that are involved in the matter are Polokwane City‚ Sekhukhune‚ PSL‚ Safa. In terms of the matter itself‚ it is sub judice.”
It is unclear why the PSL has not shared the court papers, as per protocol, with Sekhukhune as an affected party.
PSL acting CEO Mato Madlala could not be reached for comment and did not respond to questions texted to her mobile phone.