Cape Town - While Chippa United’s proposed move to the Eastern Cape failed to materialise, Cape Town is still set to lose a top football team next season.
The directors of the National First Division outfit Vasco da Gama are on the verge of selling the club to the people who run Blackburn Rovers, one of the teams that were relegated from the second tier of South African football at the end of this season.
The Cape Times understands that Vasco is considering an offer in the region of R5million. The deal apparently does not involve the players or staff, although some of the Vasco players might be snapped up by Blackburn if the deal goes through.
Blackburn relocated from East London to Durban during the past season, and it is likely that, if Vasco sell, that the franchise will move to KwaZulu-Natal. That will leave only two Cape teams in the top-flight and three in the NFD.
“We are talking to people, but there is nothing concrete as yet. There are people who are interested, but nothing has been signed,” Vasco shareholder and former coach Carlos das Neves told the Cape Times on Sunday.
It seems the high cost of running an NFD club has persuaded the club’s almost 30 shareholders to sell after their bid for promotion fizzled out in the second half of the campaign.
Vasco were level with neighbours and eventual champions Chippa United at the halfway stage of the season, but could only secure nine points in the second half of the campaign to finish outside of the playoff positions.
Vasco, who like many NFD teams don’t have a sponsor, played in the Premiership in the 2010-11 season. And the shareholders have been running the club with money they earned during that season, as the difference in monthly grants between the Premiership and the NFD is about R1.2m.
“The fact of the matter is, if you want to compete, you need to spend a lot of money. The reason why Chippa got promoted is not because they have the best football brains, it’s because they spent more money than anybody else,” Das Neves said.
“To be successful, and there might be the odd exception, you have to spend money. The team with the money can get the best players. At the beginning of the season we tried to sign a few players, but those players either went to Milano United or Chippa.
“There are clubs like Vasco and FC Cape Town who box clever and can get a team together.
“But the fact of the matter is that the shareholders haven’t put any money in since October 2010. We have lived off the grant and one or two small sponsors.”
Das Neves said that not making it to the Premiership was also a big factor, as they really enjoyed their taste of the big time. Vasco were fighting for a spot in the top eight halfway through their sole season in the Premiership, but their campaign fizzled out after the break and they were eventually relegated in the playoffs.
“The manna from heaven is only when you get to the PSL. But there is only a small chance that you will get there. You can spend like Milano, and you still don’t make it. And then when you gain promotion, there is no guarantee that you will survive.
“We have had some great times and we have had some bad times. I was involved with Vasco for 5 seasons. Of those 10 seasons, we made 10 playoffs from the Second Division to the Premiership.
“We beat Kaizer Chiefs at Soccer City, and we got that taste of the great stuff, because you play at the best stadiums and you are always on television. So when we get relegated, it was really painful.
“So we had some great highs and some great lows.”