Cape Town NFD clubs searching for venues

The Athlone Stadium pitch is not prepared as the venue had encountered issues with its effluent water system and needs the necessary maintenance completed.

FILE: A general view of Athlone Stadium. Picture: @CapeTownCityFC/Twitter.

CAPE TOWN - The Mother City’s four National First Division (NFD) clubs are in danger of being without a suitable venue for the first round of home games on 25 August.

The reason for the uncertainty is because the Athlone Stadium pitch is not prepared as the venue had encountered issues with its effluent water system and needs the necessary maintenance completed.

The City of Cape Town’s Assets and Facilities Manager Stuart Diamond explained the current situation at the venue.

“There were one or two technical issues which have now been resolved with regards to Athlone Stadium. It should be ready in two to three weeks, which means by mid-September the NFD Clubs will get back on and playing.”

Cape Umoya United, Ubuntu Cape Town, Stellenbosch FC and Ajax Cape Town make up the strong Cape Town presence in the NFD. Diamond confirmed he was in continual contact with the respective clubs and they are working together amicably to find a solution.

“I’ve had meetings with Umoya, Ubuntu and have spoken to Ajax and we are exploring alternatives for them to play. We’ve written to the PSL to see if they can accommodate us by moving one or two of the fixtures, we also engaged our Municipal Entity which is the Cape Town Stadium. So, we are working together collectively to find alternatives.”

With Stellenbosch FC making their own arrangements for their home fixture, most likely the Idas Valley Stadium, the three clubs based closer to the city, it seems the Cape Town Stadium could save the day. The World Cup venue could be used as a temporary home venue whilst the Athlone Stadium is being readied.

Diamond praised the work of the Cape Town Stadium management and is confident the venue will be secured in the short term. Director at Ubuntu Cape Town, Michael Jenkins also confirmed to EWN Sport their first home will be played at the Cape Town Stadium while Ajax Cape Town said the matter would be sorted by Friday.

Looking to the future, once Athlone is up to standard, the four clubs and the city have another headache which Diamond mentioned.

“I will be engaging with the PSL to unlock two potential new venues, what we come to realise is that with four NFD teams we were never going to cope with the number of games at Athlone.”

The search is now on for stadia to be used alongside Athlone as the volume of matches would be too much for the venue.

The new possible venues include the Green Point Athletics track, Bluedowns Stadium and Phillipi Stadium.

However, Phillipi is a venue that is controlled by the provincial government and interestingly still leased to Chippa United which is now based in Port Elizabeth.

Diamond says they have their eye on Phillipi and believe it has potential.

“From the City’s side we would like to bring it into our portfolio of strategic assets and then invest in it and fix it up so that it could be used as a venue for two NFD clubs.”

While a venue for the first NFD home matches is yet to be finalised, there is no sense of panic just yet as Cape Town Stadium is all but secured and there are other contingency plans in motion.