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City of CT orders Safa CT to vacate Athlone Stadium

The decision from the City of Cape Town indicates a breakdown in the relationship between them and the football community of Cape Town.

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

CAPE TOWN - The City of Cape Town has asked the South African Football Association Cape Town (Safa CT) to vacate the premises of Athlone Stadium, which Safa CT calls home, by 31 January 2019 citing zoning irregularities as well as health and safety reasons.

This means that come February, football in Cape Town will not have a physical home if the City of Cape Town has its way.

Safa CT president Bennett Bailey says the body has no plans on vacating the premises and is steadfast in the belief that Athlone is imperative for local football.

"We are going nowhere, that is the home of football and that is where we will launch all of our activities from."

Bailey explained the City of Cape Town reasons, adding they've not been forthcoming with more details and a plan forward.

"It's number one that it (Athlone Stadium) is not zoned for a business. And then secondly, it's for safety and health reasons, so those were the main reasons they advanced to us as to why we should vacate the office."

"We advanced to them (CoCT) that we are not a business, we are a public benefit organisation and registered as such. We are a community-based organisation so we do not qualify under the first one (business zoning)."

"The health and safety reasons, we are of the opinion that they could highlight that (specific issues) and we all become the wiser on how and how best to deal with this matter."

Safa CT will be holding a press conference on Thursday as they seek to air their grievances with the City of Cape Town, and in particular Mayoral committee member for Economic Opportunities and Asset Management James Vos.

The decision from the City of Cape Town indicates a breakdown in the relationship between them and the football community of Cape Town.

The stadium has long been an institution of football but has recently run into a number of difficulties in terms of maintenance and standards.

Bailey says that the change of leadership within the City of Cape Town regarding stadium management has had a disastrous impact on local football.

Former Assets and Facilities manager Stuart Diamond, who left his post recently, cultivated a good relationship with the football fraternity according to Bailey.

"The relationship with the City of Cape Town has always been good but that was under the stewardship of Stuart Diamond. We functioned properly."

"New Mayco member (James) Vos came in, that was the first salvo fired from him. He didn't even meet us, we just got a letter from his office, a cold letter, that we need to vacate. We think that is not how a partnership should be.

"We've engaged the city and we've asked them that we form a partnership so that we can jointly run the facility because what we've also noticed is that they do not have the capacity or the appetite to run Athlone Stadium properly.

"These guys don’t have the appetite, they do not have the know-how and they do not really want to manage the stadium. We think that we can do a better job where they manage the stadium, which is their constitutional responsibility, and then from our side will bring football to be played at the venue tomorrow."

Safa CT will not be short of support tomorrow, joining Bailey and Safa CT today will be Western Province Rugby, Western Province Cricket, Boxing as well as netball.

There is a political aspect to the matter with the ANC Youth League in the Western Cape also joining hands with local and provincial sporting organisations to unite against the City of Cape Town's plan to remove Safa CT from the Athlone Stadium.

The ANC Youth League believes the City of Cape Town is acting against the interests of community football.

"The city is not only attacking local football but is seeking to erase the heritage of Athlone Stadium as a symbol of the resistance of non-racial sports against apartheid."

EWN Sport attempted to contact Mayco member James Vos but he did not respond.

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