Scramble to save Liverpool match
A combined team consisting of the cream of the Cape’s soccer talent could be a last resort to save the highly anticipated match against Liverpool after the Premier Soccer League (PSL) banned Ajax Cape Town from playing against the English Premiership giants later this month.
The PSL objected yesterday – a day after the city finally announced details of the game at Cape Town Stadium, just two weeks before the kick-off on May 21, and two days before the tickets go on sale.
The PSL’s General Manager for Football, Derek Blanckensee, told the Cape Times yesterday they made the decision because the domestic season would not be finished, and that the publicity a game featuring Liverpool will generate is set to undermine the Nedbank Cup final on May 27, even though the game is set to be played in a different city.
There have also been friendly matches in the past against international teams during the PSL season, with Mamelodi Sundowns players memorably posing for pictures with their Barcelona counterparts in 2007 at Loftus Versfeld.
“Ajax wrote to us, and we have not granted their request to play Liverpool on May 21,” Blanckensee said yesterday. “We normally allow these friendly matches to be played in the off-season, and the season won’t be finished yet.
“We feel that the game (against Liverpool) will get lots of media attention, and it will dent the Nedbank Cup final. This is the biggest game of the season for our sponsor, and we want them to get the exposure they deserve.”
A seemingly dumbstruck Ajax chief executive George Comitis announced the PSL’s ruling yesterday, as the match was subject to the football body’s approval. But the Cape Times has learned that plans are already afoot to bypass the ruling by playing a combined “Cape Town All Stars” team if the matter is not resolved in the next few days.
It is believed that they are not going to take the issue to the PSL’s executive.
The team will be made up of the best players in Cape Town’s Premiership and National First Division teams. The city will then only need permission from the South African Football Association (Safa) for the
match to go ahead.
Comitis yesterday expressed hope that the PSL would still let the match go ahead, with Ajax taking on the 18-time English champions. However, Grant Pascoe, the councillor responsible for tourism, events and marketing for the city, was unhappy with the PSL’s decision, but said they have no doubt that the match will go ahead.
He even offered the city’s services to host the Nedbank Cup final “if the PSL was looking for exposure for the final”.
“I was really disappointed at the PSL’s decision,” Pascoe said. “But we got the go-ahead from Fifa, Safa and the EPL, so we are not too fazed.
“I think it’s short-sighted because we are trying to build Brand South Africa, and getting one of the greatest football teams in the world to play in this country is a massive achievement for us. Football attracts guests, and what sort of message does this send out to our guests?” Pascoe added.
He said tickets will still be going on sale tomorrow at Computicket and Cape Town Tourism offices, and will range from R150-R350.