It appears that it will become a reality that Bloemfontein Celtic will be playing in the National First Division next season, instead of in the Premier Soccer League.
On Sunday Celtic secured a top-eight spot in the PSL by beating AmaZulu 3-1 in East London. This was at the expense of Kaizer Chiefs who lost 1-0 to Chippa United.
Last week it was reported that the Urban Warriors were targeting either Celtic or Free State Stars, however, Ea Lla Koto was relegated following a 1-0 defeat to the champions, Mamelodi Sundowns.
The NFD team, Ajax Cape Town, are expected to announce that they will be buying Celtic’s PSL status for anywhere between R40 – 60 million.
Ajax failed to gain qualification to the PSL after finishing fourth in the standings. They along with Milano FC both finished on 51 points, however, Ajax missed out due to goal difference.
It is believed that PSL teams receive a monthly grant of R4 million, which teams in the NFD have to make do with a mere R350 000 grant a month.
This could mean that Ajax can recuperate the funds within a single year.
The financial trouble at Celtic has been well documented over the past two seasons, and it is also no secret that the chairman, Max Tshabalala, has put the club up for sale.
It is, however, hard to believe that the club will manage to function on a grant which is less than one-tenth of that they are currently receiving.
Should Celtic drop to the NFD it could have massive implications on professional sport in Central South Africa as there will be no PSL team in the Free State, North West or the Northern Cape.
A few years ago the Toyota Cheetahs were cut from the Super Rugby, however, they managed to find a new home in the Guinness Pro14. On a cricketing front, the VKB Knights who represented both the Free State and Northern Cape failed to secure one of the six franchises in the Mzansi Super League, and at this stage, it appears highly unlikely that the tournament will be expanding to eight teams.
By all accounts, Celtic, will be sacrificing their spot in the MTN8 cup competition next season, and it is unclear is that spot will automatically go to Ajax, or if the ninth-placed Kaizer Chiefs will receive a lifeline.
Celtic is known for having one of the largest fans bases in the country and it will be a same for the Phunya Sele Sele faithful not being able to enjoy top-flight football.
Celtic could not be reached for comment. – MORGAN PIEK