How Gallants plan to avoid another relegation saga

Newly appointed Marumo Gallants coach Dylan Kerr and club president Abram Sello explained their vision for the club yesterday. | BackpagePix

Newly appointed Marumo Gallants coach Dylan Kerr and club president Abram Sello explained their vision for the club yesterday. | BackpagePix

Published Jul 10, 2024



Marumo Gallants president Abram Sello has outlined how they plan to stay afloat in local football’s elite league next season after buying their way back to the top.

Gallants bought the status of Moroka Swallows late last month, marking their return to the top flight after their automatic relegation two seasons ago. Bahlabane Ba Ntwa’s return shocked the football masses, considering that their precarious financial position was among the factors that led to their relegation.

After reaching the CAF Confederation Cup semi-final, Gallants had a brawl with the players over bonuses, resulting in lacklustre performances in the last two league games.

However, the true extent of the club’s financial woes was revealed when two of its officials – Rufus Matsena and Tebogo Dhlomo – were held for ransom in Libya. This came after Gallants failed to pay back a north African businessman for the costs of transport and accommodation he covered during their transcontinental journey.

The 2021 Nedbank Cup champions and 2022 finalists proved that they are a cat with nine lives, though, as they pounced on Swallows’ status after the club endured its own financial struggles.

“I think in every journey, we learn. We experience up-falls and downfalls,” said Sello during a media briefing yesterday at Hotel Sky when he was quizzed on what they would do differently this time.

“But as you can see, our club has been doing well – we won the Nedbank Cup, went to CAF and went into the final of the Nedbank Cup, trying to defend it.

“It was a learning curve. But there was a restraint in how much resources we had during that dilemma.”

As part of the strategy to ensure financial stability, the club has been relocated to Bloemfontein where it will host its home games at Dr Petrus Molemela stadium.

The Mangaung metro has reportedly agreed to go into a partnership with Gallants who’ll have access to their facilities and other resources for free.

However, Gallants’ primary desire in returning permanently to Bloemfontein, having hosted some of their top-flight games there previously, is to quench the football thirst of the people of the city.

The City of Roses has been without a tiop-flight club since the sale of Bloemfontein Celtic to Royal AM in 2022, and their passionate football lovers have been forced into a deafening silence.

So, with all the stakeholders coming together for the betterment of the club, Sello is confident that they’ll run a watertight ship this time around.

“So that’s why we are looking around to see where we can beef up our strength,” he said.

“Remember, this is a club and you can’t do it alone. You need four tables to come together – the supporters, support from the governance, finances and structures.”

Sello is not naïve in thinking that only the four entities matter, though. He knows that statuses are retained on the pitch – hence they decided to reappoint Dylan Kerr as their head coach.

Kerr guided the team to the Confederation Cup semis in his last season at the club before they got relegated to the NFD.

“Of course, the players and the coaches are important. We can talk the whole day here, but if we don’t do well on the pitch then we are nowhere,” Sello admitted.

“We’ve made sure that the players (from the NFD) came back with the coach. We don’t need other new arrangements. So, let’s rectify what went wrong. What made us want to be there.

“We are then going to move on from there with the reinforcements of the best players according to our survey. You’ll see when we announce the signings.”