City faces another big bill for soccer

By Gugu Mbonambi Time of article published May 23, 2012

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Durban ratepayers could be faced with a R3.5-million bill for the city to host the Vodacom Challenge soccer tournament in July.

The announcement comes just days after the furore over the financial implications of hosting the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon).

To date, city officials and politicians have been in the dark about the final costs of hosting Afcon.

The municipality’s acting deputy city manager for sustainable development, Philip Sithole, told the executive committee yesterday that the city had been approached by SAIL, the event organisers, to host the Vodacom Challenge soccer tournament matches at Moses Mabhida Stadium on July 21.

Teams facing each other in the tournament include English Premier League team Newcastle United versus Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates versus SuperSport United.

Sithole told the committee that Durban, Cape Town and some cities in Gauteng had been shortlisted to host the tournament.

“The initial costs were R6.5m, but the price has been reduced to R3.5m because they were only able to get one overseas team to play in the tournament. Initially it was going to be two overseas teams to play,” he said.

Although only one overseas team would be taking part in the tournament the city was confident that there would be great economic spin-offs for the city, that the tournament would promote racial integration and that the stadium would be packed to capacity.

“Other issues that we were discussing that are not yet finalised with the organisers are more on the direct income for the city. They will pay all the costs associated with hosting the competition, but they are prepared to negotiate with us so the R3.5m could be reduced if the city performs some of the functions associated with hosting the tournament,” he said.

Percentage

Other direct income for the city would be for hospitality suites which included the provision of food and drinks.

“There are still discussions regarding what percentage the city would get regarding the sale of hospitality suites. We would like the executive committee to approve R3.5m as a ball-park figure that we will use to negotiate.

“They are looking for only two host cities and we want Durban to be one of those cities considered,” he added.

A final report detailing the total income for the city would be presented at the next executive committee meeting.

DA caucus leader Tex Collins protested against the city’s having to shell out R3.5m, saying his party would abstain from voting for the city to host the tournament.

“I’m somewhat taken aback by this particular report because we are not even sure if it will be R3.5m.

“We still don’t know how much it will cost to host Afcon… Until such time we know how much hosting Afcon will cost us, how can anyone in their right mind agree to this?” he said.

Deputy health and social services manager Musa Gumede said the city still needed to negotiate with the province on splitting the cost.

He said the figure could be reduced if the province agreed to pay 50 percent of the costs.

City manager S’bu Sithole said the city would like to split with the province the costs of hosting Afcon event.

Last month he told the executive committee that the cost of hosting Afcon had dropped from R180m to “about R40m”.

Sithole added that Afcon was not an event for host cities only, but for the entire country, and the national sports department was finalising the budget to help host cities in paying for the event.

Although there had been no official communication on the budgetary implications from the SA Football Association, it would be in Durban for a site visit on May 28 and 29 and said that, hopefully, a decision would have been taken by next week.

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