Bloemfontein Celtic set to be sold as bidders line up to buy

Current boss is taking offers to save club from dying in his hands

20 May 2018 - 00:00 By BARENG-BATHO KORTJAAS and Sazi Hadebe

Bloemfontein Celtic boss Max Tshabalala is prepared to sell the club to save it from dying in his hands.
Tshabalala exclusively told the Sunday Times yesterday that potential buyers have expressed interest in taking over the 49-year-old Free State outfit and he was ready to take the best offer.
The Sunday Times can reveal that a group of businessmen from Gauteng are waiting to buy the club, which Tshabalala confirmed yesterday.
"There are some people from outside (Free State) that are saying they would like to buy the team but I'm saying wait, let me talk to the people inside first," said Tshabalala.
"I can't be stubborn and say no if there is an offer. I will take it with a very heavy heart to make sure Celtic is in good hands.
"It doesn't help me that I keep the team when I'm struggling financially. I'm not going to deny that it is difficult now. Running the club is affecting my company income.
"Whoever brings the offer to save the team I would have no other alternative. We are anticipating that by next month there must be movement. I want this thing done way before the start of the new season."He disclosed that a meeting with the executive committee of the supporters has been arranged for Tuesday to inform them of the latest developments.
"Ngiyazama (I'm trying) to make sure things are going right. I've played the game. I love the game, I wanted to make Celtic great. But I can't let the team die in my hands because I'm not jealous.
"If there is a way for me to fix this, I will be open to people who can make sure it survives. We have to sort this before the new season starts. I'll have to consider the offer.
"I don't want to see what happened this past season with late payment for players, coaches and signing-on fees. I must sell the team because I don't want to ruin the legacy of ntate [Petrus] Molemela (the late founder and owner of Celtic).
"This coming Tuesday I'm meeting with the executive committee of the supporters to discuss with them the problems and to map the way forward.
"We are talking with different companies for sponsors and three municipalities for hosting rights just to make sure we have an income, the same way that Chippa [United] did going to Port Elizabeth and [Kaizer] Chiefs by going to Durban."
Tshabalala, who owns a property development company, Ikaheng Developers, bought the club from the Augousti family in 2014 in a deal reported to be worth R45 million.
He has buckled under financial strain so much so that last season several players and members of the coaching staff were not paid their signing-on fees and salaries.
"My brother, I'm pouring my heart out to you. This is a heart-to-heart interview. There were promises that were made to the players that were not fulfilled.
"Our monthly expenses which include, among other things, travelling and hotel bookings, are R4.3-million.
"You know I'm a developer and my company does development for certain banks and the government," said Tshabalala.
"The payments from those projects were not done on time. I apologised to the team for the delay, more especially on the signing-on fees. Players were threatening to go on strike."South Africa is a democratic country, if people are not happy they have a right to express themselves whichever way. But in the end R9.2-million was paid to the players.
"I'm not going to deny the fact that it is difficult now and it is affecting my company income."
When the Sunday Times told Tshabalala that Ajax Cape Town, who were relegated from the PSL, have been touted as one of the potential buyers, he said he had not had any contact with the Cape club.
"I'm friends with Ari [Efstathiou, the Ajax chief executive officer] and he has not contacted me."
Tshabalala also denied that coach Veselin Jelusic has resigned from the club.
"No, the coach has not resigned. In fact he is right there in Johannesburg driving a BMW 5 series I bought.
"I also bought a bus for the team. Like I said, I'm trying to make things right. The coach has not resigned."
In spite of the financial difficulties they experienced last season, Bloemfontein Celtic coach Veselin Jelusic led his charges to the Telkom Knockout final.
They lost the encounter, which was played at the Princess Magogo Stadium in KwaMashu, in Durban, 1-0 to Bidvest Wits courtesy of a final-minute strike by Vincent Pule.

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