Royal AM claim legal basis for not taking the field in playoff against Chippa United

23 June 2021 - 14:09
By Marc Strydom
Royal AM chair and player Andile Mpisane and club owner and president Shauwn Mkhize celebrate with players. Mkhize is adamant her team are the rightful GladAfrica champions.
Image: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix Royal AM chair and player Andile Mpisane and club owner and president Shauwn Mkhize celebrate with players. Mkhize is adamant her team are the rightful GladAfrica champions.

Royal AM’s decision to not take the field against Chippa United in their promotion-relegation playoff match on Tuesday followed another letter sent to the Premier Soccer League (PSL) by the Durban team’s attorneys.

The letter claimed that the match going ahead at Chatsworth Stadium would be against an earlier interdict against the playoffs continuing that had been ordered by a Johannesburg high court judge.

There are questions, though‚ that there is any legal basis for Royal to fail to honour their fixture against Chippa.

Legal sources close to the case asserted that judge AJ Nyathi’s interdict had applied only to the period of the high court appeal that was dismissed by deputy judge president Roland Sutherland on Saturday.

Royal’s players did arrive at Chatsworth Stadium for the second playoff game‚ after Chippa beat Richards Bay 2-1 in the first playoff match in Port Elizabeth on Saturday. However‚ after the letter from Royal’s legal representatives‚ Mabuza Attorneys‚ was sent to the PSL‚ the players were instructed by their managers to leave.

Royal on Monday did take their application to appeal the matter that saw Sekhukhune United awarded three points in an arbitration‚ upheld by the South Gauteng High Court‚ to the Supreme Court of Appeal.

Parties opposing the application for the matter to be heard at that court have a month to submit those arguments.

Even if the Supreme Court does approve the application for the appeal to be heard‚ it then could take another month to be in court.

Among points made in Mabuza Attorneys’ letter sent to the PSL’s legal representatives were that:

  • the PSL’s conduct “is in contempt of both the earlier version and the current version of the order of Nyathi AJ in that the only sensible interpretation thereof is that due to the breaches of the constitution and Paja [the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act]‚ which accompanied the PSL’s decision to remove Royal AM from the number one spot ... [so] the playoffs must be suspended pending the final determination of the application for leave to appeal and ensuing appeal(s)”;
  • the conduct of the PSL “in continuing with the playoffs is far worse than it was on June 13 when Royal AM demanded that it should not commence with the playoffs‚ in that this time around the PSL has been confirmed to have been constitutionally delinquent in its removal of Royal AM from the top position”; and
  • there is “accordingly no reason in law or in logic why Royal AM must participate in illegitimate playoffs”.

Mabuza Attorneys’ conclusion that the PSL has acted against the country’s constitution was derived from a paragraph in Nyathi’s interdict ruling‚ stating that Royal AM were seeking relief related to “a declaration of constitutional invalidity”.

Asked for comment, Eric Mabuza of Mabuza Attorneys was asked how the PSL‚ having applied an arbitration ruling to award three points to Sekhukhune‚ which was upheld by the high court‚ had acted against the country’s constitution.

“You recall it was last Monday judge Nyathi issued an order legally granting what we wanted [an interdict]‚” Mabuza said. “But yesterday [Tuesday] he delivered a judgment and there are two critical issues in that.

“The first was that the interim interdict was granted ‘pending the final determination of the application for leave to appeal’.

“The PSL says that because Sutherland dismissed our application for leave to appeal, the interdict falls away.

“We have a different interpretation to that ... just by the words ‘final determination’.”

However‚ seemingly in contradiction to this assertion by Mabuza‚ elsewhere in Nyathi’s ruling the judge states: “I am persuaded that the applicant has made out a case for the granting of interim interdict pending application before his lordship Sutherland DJP.”

Mabuza was asked how‚ given Nyathi’s paragraph on the constitution was part of an interdict to stop the playoffs‚ and had no jurisdiction overturning the high court order that three points be awarded to Sekhukhune‚ it was relevant in Royal AM not honouring their fixture against Chippa.

It was put to Mabuza that if the PSL had not awarded the three points to Sekhukhune‚ they would have been in contempt of a high court ruling.

“No‚ they wouldn’t have been in contempt of court. What they needed to do was invite us. They should have said‚ ‘Look, there is this court order which compels us to change [the top-place team in the GladAfrica] — have you got anything to say?’” he said.

Royal are also involved in the PSL playoffs’ next fixture against Richards Bay at Chatsworth Stadium on Thursday afternoon.

PSL acting CEO Mato Madlala and legal head Michael Murphy could not be reached for comment despite numerous attempts to call them on their cellphones.