Ajax CT throw in the towel after fighting to stay in the PSL
It took Ajax Cape Town more than five months and a hefty undisclosed amount of legal bills before they realised the dice they were throwing was never going to favour them in their bid to keep their place in the top echelons of South African football.
But after Ajax's capitulation this week, more questions remained about why it took them so long to read the script.
Perhaps one answer lies in the fact that even advocate Norman Arendse, who represented Ajax in court, struggled to provide a clear-cut answer on why Ajax had never taken Tendai Ndoro's matter to the Fifa Player Status Committee.
That question had been posed to Arendse by Judge Denise Fisher at the High Court in Johannesburg on Thursday where Ajax were opposing the PSL's application for leave to appeal against Fisher's judgment.
In trying to defend their stance, Ajax CEO Ari Efstathiou said they had been given the mandate to play Ndoro by the PSL's Dispute Resolution Chamber."We did fight for the truth and for what we believe was right. Unfortunately the ball did not roll our way," said Efstathiou.
But the answer about taking the matter to Fifa, whose rules are very clear on player registration, was never given by Ajax.
What Efstathiou confirmed was that his side would campaign in the National First Division next season as they believed the PSL's leave to appeal case might drag on and also not go their way.
The big sign of Ajax's surrender came into being early on Thursday, with Fisher granting the PSL leave to appeal her judgment.
Fisher's judgment had given Ajax some hope of returning to the PSL as it had set aside an arbitration award by advocate William Mokhari, who had found Ajax guilty of playing Ndoro last season.
By appealing against Fisher's judgment the PSL wanted Mokhari's ruling to stand.
So when Fisher gave the PSL what it wanted Arendse conceded that their chances had become very slim.
"When Fisher allowed the appeal against her judgment, that immediately affected our chances," said Arendse.
For the PSL, the Ndoro saga didn't paint it in good light. The PSL and Ajax should have avoided the whole circus which nearly brought the league to a standstill by checking the Fifa rules before Ndoro's registration was ratified in January.When asked why the PSL was going ahead with its appeal against Fisher's judgment, the league's legal representative, Denis Sibuyi, said it had to because it was still open to many interpretations.
"Remember that once Judge Fisher's judgment has been dealt with, it will pave the way for determination of Ndoro's case on whether he was eligible or not," said Sibuyi.
On realising that the PSL's appeal may take 4-12 weeks before it is finalised, Ajax said they had no other option but to head to the dreaded First Division.
The only consolation was Ajax coach Muhsin Ertugral agreeing to go down with them. Perhaps justifiable, as it was with him that Ajax had signed and fielded Ndoro.