Kaizer Chiefs appear set to dump Rand Stadium as a home base in their bid to attract more spectators following complaints from their fans that the Turfontein venue is unsuitable and difficult to access.
Accustomed to drawing big crowds, Amakhosi have been sucked into the general malaise of poor stadium attendances afflicting the Absa Premiership this season, with some of their crowds at Rand Stadium as low as 4000 and even lower for evening matches.
Having opted to use the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane for this weekend’s Telkom Knockout semi-final against Santos, Chiefs will also move their next league match with Vasco da Gama to FNB Stadium next Saturday – a strong indication that a shift away from Rand is imminent.
Chiefs team manager Bobby Motaung stressed yesterday that Rand remained the club’s main venue, but did not rule out a move due to what he said were fans’ concerns about the stadium’s location.
“We are looking at addressing the issue of poor crowds, but it can’t be blamed on the location of the stadium alone. We know that our fans have an issue with Rand because if they are using taxis they have to board twice and those who have cars are worried about parking.
“We are concerned about poor attendances because we usually experience that when the team is losing. At the moment we are doing well and fans shouldn’t be staying away,” Motaung said.
He added the Premier Soccer League’s decision to raise ticket prices to R40 is not the main reason for Chiefs’ fans staying away.
“Affordability is not a serious issue for our fans,” he said. “There are other factors, like the influence of television.”
Stadium Management SA chief executive Jacques Grobbelaar – whose company controls four stadiums in Johannesburg – conceded Chiefs fans were experiencing transport difficulties at Rand, but emphasised the club had not indicated they would move permanently to Soccer City. “It’s not a final decision that Chiefs will move to FNB.
“We are aware of public transport problems at Rand, but we are trying to see how best we can resolve them. Chiefs have taken their game against Vasco to FNB because they want fans to have a great experience, just as they did for the Soweto Derby last week. But it is true that at FNB fans can easily catch transport back to Soweto or the CBD afterwards,” Grobbelaar said.
The Star understands that Chiefs wanted to relocate to Johannesburg Stadium, but could not do so because Orlando Pirates are using it as a training venue.
Chiefs have used no fewer than five venues as a home base in the past three years. Last season they looked to have found a permanent location at Orlando Stadium, but had to dump it a few months into the term as Pirates took over.
“We moved from Orlando because Pirates came over and we could never share a stadium with them.
“There were issues about branding and if we had to share, it would have been expensive,” Motaung said.
Asked why Chiefs didn’t stand their ground on their usage of Orlando, he retorted: “We are past that stage of fighting over stadiums.
“The reality is that we are rivals with Pirates, but they are always following us.
“They first followed us to Rustenburg a few years ago. Then we moved to Ellis Park and they took it over. If it was possible they would come here to the (Chiefs) Village (in Naturena). Maybe they idolise us. But a permanent solution is for us to own our own stadium.”
A few years ago Chiefs announced they would build the Amakhosi Stadium in Krugersdorp but those plans were shelved due to what the club said were unforeseen construction costs. “That is still our vision, to have our own stadium where nobody can move us. We will soon unveil exact timelines as to when we would have this in place.
“As it is we are struggling to sell season tickets and packages because we do not have a proper home base,” Motaung added. - The Star