CAPE TOWN – Ajax Cape Town are in the South Gauteng High Court today in a bid to interdict the start of the 2018-19 PSL season. It is only the first step in Ajax’s battle for justice in the saga involving the eligibility of Zimbabwean striker Tendai Ndoro.
The Cape side will also oppose the PSL’s application for leave to appeal Judge Denise Fischer’s verdict; and Ajax also have a contingency plan if the PSL is granted the right to appeal: they will then file a Section 18, which is to have the Judge’s ruling stand until the Ndoro matter is complete.
If Ajax are successful in preventing the new season from starting, it is likely to have ramifications for the PSL with regard to fixture congestion and in terms of its agreements with sponsors and broadcasters. The issue has been a festering wound on brand PSL since January. With both Ajax and the PSL prepared for the long haul, it certainly makes today’s court proceedings a tricky occasion for football.
Ndoro played for three clubs last season - Orlando Pirates Al Faisaly (Saudi Arabia) and Ajax. Fifa rules state that a player may only turn out for two clubs in a season. Ajax, however, believed there were extenuating circumstances to Ndoro’s case and were vindicated when the PSL’s Dispute Resolution Chamber (DRC) cleared Ndoro to play. But, ever since, it’s devolved into a legal mess, with appeals, arbitration hearings and court cases.
At arbitration, Advocate William Mokhari docked Ajax points for fielding Ndoro and the Cape club was subsequently relegated from the PSL. Earlier this month, Judge Denise Fischer overturned Mokhari’s verdict, ruling that only Fifa’s Player Status Committee has jurisdiction on the matter.
The PSL has decided to appeal Judge Fischer’s decision, which is why Ajax are back in the High Court today: if the case is to continue through the courts, the Capetonians want to make sure that the new PSL season doesn’t go ahead until the Ndoro matter is resolved (the season is scheduled to commence on August 4).
“Our urgent application to interdict the start of the new PSL season goes before a judge on Tuesday,” said Ajax chief executive Ari Efstathiou. “We are going ahead with this, even though the PSL is yet to see Judge Fischer with regard to an application to appeal her verdict. There have also been a few other developments, which I can’t reveal at this stage, which make our case even stronger.”
After the High Court decision earlier this month, Efstathiou had hoped that the PSL would be keen on resolving the Ndoro matter, but it has not been forthcoming. And, with the PSL deciding to appeal Judge Fischer’s ruling, Ajax have decided, in Efstathiou’s words, “to throw everything at it”.
Today’s court appearance is the first stage of that process. Whatever happens today, it won’t be the end for Ajax: they have vowed to continue fighting until they get justice.
Efstathiou believes his club has not been treated fairly, even with regard to the arbitrator’s initial findings. As he pointed out: there have been numerous player registration cases in SA football, but when a team has been docked points, never, ever, were the points given to the opposing team.
It’s unprecedented, yet Ajax had to suffer such a fate, which is why it is easy to understand why the Capetonians feel the punishment was harsh and excessive.