The City of uMhlathuze would consider legal steps against Thanda Royal Zulu if the sale of the team’s Premier Soccer League (PSL) franchise went through‚ the municipality’s communications manager‚ Mdu Ncalane, said.
The municipality‚ which includes Richards Bay in northern KwaZulu-Natal‚ had invested financially in Thanda’s promotion to the PSL this past season as National First Division champions‚ Ncalane said.
It had instructed its lawyers to investigate if it had legal recourse should the PSL pass Thanda’s proposed sale of the franchise to Durban first division club AmaZulu.
The two clubs have agreed on the terms of the sale, with the PSL just needing to approve it.
The sale was not passed at a league executive committee meeting on Thursday, with outstanding issues to be resolved by Thanda and AmaZulu.
"We are not happy with the deal, because it deprives us of an opportunity to have a PSL team‚" Ncalane said on Tuesday.
The municipality had asked the PSL to consider the city and not to approve the deal.
The municipality had sponsored Thanda for "about four years"‚ Ncalane said.
The city also upgraded the lights at Thanda’s home ground‚ uMhlathuze Sports Complex‚ in the past year to Fifa-accredited standard at a cost of R14m.
It had entered into a R15m three-year sponsorship deal with Thanda‚ signed in April‚ which stipulated the team would not leave the city.
From the spin-offs of having a PSL team in the city — such as hosting big matches against teams such as Kaizer Chiefs‚ Orlando Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns — the municipality was expecting returns far exceeding R15m and the money that was spent on the stadium, Ncalane said.
Apart from writing to the PSL "begging them to not proceed with the deal", the municipality had instructed its lawyers to study the contract it had signed with the team‚ Ncalane said. "We are not at odds with the PSL. We had nothing to do with the PSL. We had an agreement with the team. We have to look into the legalities in terms of the contracts that we signed.
"Luckily, the R15m sponsorship investment was not through yet‚ because it was to be used in the coming seasons.
"We cannot say that they must bring back the money that we invested in the stadium facilities‚ because the facility will remain with us. But there are contractual obligations that our lawyers have to look into … in terms of breach of contract.
"Currently, we are not aware how much that would be or how we would go about it."
Ncalane said the city would also explore whether there was any recourse for what it had spent on the stadium.
"Maybe … out of the deal [to sell the franchise] a certain portion should come back [to the council]‚" he said.
Thanda chairman Pierre Delvaux could not be reached for comment.