Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga. Picture: Oupa Mokoena
Pretoria - A war of words has erupted between Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga and Arcadia Shepherds FC manager Lucky Manna over the imminent multimillion-rand facelift of Caledonian Stadium.

Msimanga announced on Thursday that the municipality had put aside R67 million to refurbish the stadium.

But Manna reacted with anger to the news, saying the club was not consulted prior to the announcement despite it having used the facility since 1903.

He believed the club should have been consulted because it fought to save the stadium, which was under threats of being demolished by the previous ANC-led municipality.

The ANC had plans to demolish the stadium and turn it into a multipurpose park.

Manna was at the forefront of putting up a legal battle to stop the ANC from executing its plans.

“Was it not because of the fight we put up against the ANC administration that stadium would have been demolished in 2015. The DA got into power by saying they would be fair to everybody. We are both equally important.

"We don’t need the s**t that we get here,”Manna said.

He accused the Tshwane DA-led administration of adopting an apartheid-style of government and practising ANC tactics. “The DA is not better than the apartheid government and the ANC government. They have not spoken to us at all and that is against the principle of the government that we voted for. I am extremely unhappy about it,” Manna said.

He was also irked by Msimanga’s announcement that the stadium would be a new home ground for Tshwane-based Premier Soccer League club SuperSport United.

The club currently plays its home matches at the Lucas “Masterpieces” Moripe Stadium in Atteridgeville, west of the city.

Msimanga said the municipality and SuperSport United had entered into a deal stipulating that the facility would be the club’s home for playing their league matches upon the completion of the refurbishment in three years.

Manna said he was upset after learning about the deal from the media. “I am currently upset, but I don’t know the facts. I am so disgusted,” he said.

Asked for comment, Msimanga said the stadium would be used by SuperSport United, but would also be open to members of the public, including Arcadia Shepherds.

He didn’t rule out the possibility of consulting Manna’s club at a later stage, saying they would have a say at the facility.

“We are saying that because SuperSport is a club in Tshwane that is a also Premier League participant, we need to make sure that they are bringing matches to that particular facility," Msimanga said.

He said the city was in talks with the Heritage Council regarding the preservation of some parts of the stadium with historical and heritage status.

According to Msimanga, the city could not allow a situation whereby it was held ransom by Acardia Shepherds.

“If we are saying that this is the group which wants to use it, why should we use public money?” Msimanga said.

He said the stadium had a very rich history in South Africa.

It was where football stars like Mark Fish, Bongani Khumalo, Itumeleng Khune came and played.

The club also produced the famous Wegerle brothers, Geoff, Steve and Roy, the latter went on to play for Chelsea and Queens Park Rangers in the UK and represented his adopted country, the US, in the World Cup.

“People like Pitso Mosimane cut his teeth here. The late Thomas Madigage played and coached there,” Msimanga said.

Pretoria News