Cape Town's Green Point stadium is illuminated as construction officials test the lighting as part of preparations for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, October 27 2009. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings (SOUTH AFRICA SPORT SOCCER CITYSCAPE)

Cape Town – The mayoral committee member for tourism, events and marketing, Grant Pascoe, says several English soccer clubs have made serious offers to play at the Cape Town Stadium.

Pascoe has just returned from a trip to London where he met representatives of three English Premier League clubs to discuss the possibility of the teams’ training or spending pre-season tours at the stadium.

Last year, thousands of fans came to the stadium to watch Manchester United take on Ajax Cape Town.

This experience had impressed other English clubs with whom the city had been negotiating to use the stadium as a training venue, Pascoe said.

In December, he said the city was in talks with Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal about using the stadium for training, in a bid to boost the venue’s international profile.

The city is attempting to increase the number of events at the R4.5 billion stadium in an effort to make it financially viable.

Pascoe said city officials had met three English football clubs, but did not mention names.

“The meetings were constructive. Since returning to Cape Town, we have received serious offers from clubs wanting to play in the city. We are considering each of these and will make an announcement as soon as decisions have been made,” he said.

If the negotiations are successful, the city has previously said that these teams could be in Cape Town by July, during the European soccer off-season, which is from June to August.

Clubs mainly travel to Asia and the US for training camps and pre-season tours.

“Cape Town is gaining a reputation as a leading sports destination,” Pascoe said.

“Last year’s Manchester United and Ajax clash was a major success. More than 50 000 people attended the match and an independent study found they brought R76 million into the local economy, based on the takings from accommodation, restaurants and shopping.”

As Cape Town gears up to host Bafana Bafana’s World Cup qualifier, it is appealing to residents to throw their support behind local Premier Soccer League (PSL) teams who face critical fixtures over the next few weeks.

Bafana Bafana take on the Central African Republic atthe Cape Town Stadium on March 23.

The date on which tickets go on sale has yet to be confirmed.

Pascoe said residents should also show their support for city PSL teams when Ajax Cape Town take on Orlando Pirates at Cape Town Stadium on Friday and Chippa United take on Kaizer Chiefs on March 6 at the Athlone Stadium.

“Our teams are battling in the league and we really want to get behind Ajax Cape Town and Chippa United,” Pascoe said. “We see the support for international teams, where thousands of people fill the stadiums, and we want to foster the same passion for Cape Town teams.”

Thousands of spectators are expected at the Bafana Bafana World Cup qualifier. Close to 40 000 watched the national squad take on Norway last month. – Cape Times

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