Suspicion over Da Gama’s suspension

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iol spt apr20 Da Gama touchline photo Suspended Platinum Stars coach Owen da Gama.

Suspicions of foul play could surface amid the bribery allegations surrounding suspended Platinum Stars coach Owen da Gama, with some club sources linking the matter to his bitter relationship with Floyd Mbele.

Mbele is chief executive at Royal Bafokeng Sports Holding (RBSH), which owns the club, and where a meeting is expected to be held next week to question the validity of his role as the Stars chairman.

According to a source that worked closely with both, Da Gama was unhappy with Mbele's interference in team selection at Stars.

The bad blood is traced back to their time together at Orlando Pirates.

“We all know that they didn't get along from their time at Pirates where Owen was one of the coaches that accused Floyd of interfering with team selections,” said the source.

“He wanted to be involved in the picking of the team before matches, which Owen was not comfortable with.”

The source revealed that Mbele made attempts to hire Ruud Krol in Da Gama's place in November, and when that failed, he attempted to rope in Ian Palmer.

Their fight was raised with Stars general manager Jason Raine, and later with RBSH chairman Ciff Ramoroa.

“It was brought up with Jason, who said he couldn't do anything about it, and then with Ramoroa, who is not on good terms with Mbele,” the source said.

“Don't forget that there is a better budget under (interim coach) Cavin Johnson, who didn't get along with Owen, with players camping in hotels and holding team-building exercises.”

Ramoroa, though, denied any knowledge of the rocky relationship between Mbele and Da Gama.

“I don't know of anything like that. It was not brought to my attention,” Ramoroa said.

Mbele referred all matters regarding Da Gama to Raine.

“I can't comment on the matter. Speak to Jason,” Mbele said.

Raine denied knowledge of any conflict between Mbele and Da Gama.

“My relationship with Owen was cordial. I wouldn't comment about him and Floyd because I wouldn't know,” he said.

“Besides, there are always conflicts in any work environment. We don't always agree on all matters.

“It is up to the club to question selection, especially when results are not coming.

“That was the case at the time because the team was facing (Premiership) relegation.”

Da Gama is alleged to have taken money from players for game time, though the findings from the case have yet to be made public.

In addition, Da Gama was accused of making “damaging media statements” and buying alcohol for the players after their league match against Bloemfontein Celtic on February 26 – a week before his suspension.

“What was investigated here was issues of him taking money and comments made on television and on (radio presenter) Robert Marawa's sports show,” the source said.

Investigations concluded three weeks ago after a two-day inquiry headed by attorney Mandla Tshabalala, who said the matter was now in the hands of the Rustenburg-based club.

“I'm not in a position to speak on it because the club will know at this stage, and they are the best people to answer the questions,” said Tshabalala.

Ramoroa could not clarify as to why the findings had not yet been made public.

“To be honest, I don't know why it took so long for all reports to be reachable,” said Ramoroa.

“I know Jason has been on a three-day course, and will be the best to answer you when he returns.”

Raine said on Friday that the findings would be revealed next week.

“The club will have a meeting with Owen next week,” he said.

“The delay was caused by the Easter weekend and then the holidays.

“Unfortunately, I won't be able to discuss the matter further before it is presented.” – Sapa


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