An artist’s renditions of what the Durban soccer academy would look like.
Durban - Whether Durban’s much talked-about soccer academy will ever kick off remains unknown, as the parties involved fight to occupy the sought after Kings Park land.

More legal challenges have been promised by both parties that could stall the project longer.

Carlos Catalino of Hoy Park, the developers of the soccer academy, released new images of what the academy could look like should it finally get off the ground.

Hoy Park, which was awarded the site to build a first-of-its-kind soccer academy together with the SA Football Association (Safa), maintained that the Kings Park precinct was theirs and fresh legal action was to be soon taken.

Development could not go ahead, said Catalina, because stallholders and management of the Newmarket Stables refused to move from the property on which they traded.

“They have been depicted as people who depend solely on the income from the market, but this is not true. I cannot allow that only a handful of people who benefit from the market can hold up the future of so many young and talented soccer players that need an opportunity like this. For the boys that will pass through the academy, it’s an opportunity of a lifetime.

“They train here and build their skills, and get signed up with overseas clubs. They send income home and help their families, that’s the amazing thing that happens here,” he said.

The multimillion-rand academy project was initially announced in 2012 and was to include a partnership with English Premier League team Liverpool. It ground to a halt after objections by the market.

The academy precinct would include new training fields, a revamped velodrome, accommodation for learners, a hotel, a high-performance training centre and other related services.

Catalino said Hoy Park, with the city, would now issue interdicts and protection court orders after Glen Eden, the company that manages the Stables, threatened his staff.

“The court is our only remedy in two respects: getting illegal occupants off the land so we can build a facility that Durban and South Africa can be proud of and, for me, it is to expose all the lies, deceit and thugs that they are,” he said.

However, Newmarket Stables has accused Catalino of underhanded measures despite it being in negotiations with the city.

Head of Glen Eden, Yaser Nasif, vowed to fight to remain on the property.

“They cannot take us out of there; there is no lease, why would the city issue two leases?” he asked.

Glen Eden, through its lawyer, Tashya Giyapersad, said it had the following issues with Hoy Park: attempts to hijack Glen Eden’s business as it was evident that Hoy Park had no money; underhanded dealings with the municipality because the academy did not go out to tender; close relationships with certain officials at the municipality; dumping of dirt and rubbish on the premises; and inciting violence.

The city, meanwhile, refused to comment on who had the legal right to be on the property.

Themba Masimula, the city’s development and planning senior professional planner, said: “A report was sitting at bid adjudication committee (BAC) for years to award the site to Hoy Park, which is a service provider for Safa, to build, manage and operate the sports academy.

“Finally on September 3, 2018, BAC approved the lease of the land to Hoy Park to develop the land for the sports academy. The Real Estate Department then issued the signed lease documents for the land to Hoy Park on December 1, 2018.”

Referring to an email sent to the city for response, Masimula said: “On the legal matter you’ve referred to in the email, it was not dealt with by my department but by the Legal Department of the city. If you require any information on that matter, you may contact them directly for details regarding progress or no progress on the case.”

However, the city’s legal team did not reply to queries by The Independent On Saturday and the city’s communication team said only: “We’ve been advised by Legal that the matter is in court, therefore we cannot discuss anything pertaining to the matter with the media until the court proceedings are finalised.”

IOS