Relegated Ajax Cape Town off to court
Cape Town club says it will seek postponement of play-offs after arbiter’s ruling on Ndoro matter results in match forfeiture
Ajax Cape Town are to file papers in the high court to have the Premier Soccer League’s (PSL’s) promotion-relegation play-offs postponed‚ the club has confirmed.
Ajax have effectively been relegated by a decision from arbiter William Mokhari SC that they acted wrongfully in playing Zimbabwe striker Tendai Ndoro earlier this season.
Mokhari ruled that Ajax would forfeit points from three matches — wins against Platinum Stars and SuperSport United and a draw against Polokwane City — in favour of Ajax’s opponents because the club was the third Ndoro had played for this season in contravention of Fifa regulations.
But Ajax are ready to fight back and will go to court on Wednesday in a bid to stop the opening game taking place in Thohoyandou on Wednesday afternoon between National First Division side Black Leopards and Platinum Stars.
"Ajax Cape Town are currently consulting with their legal team regarding William Mokhari SC’s arbitration ruling," the club said in a statement.
"The club is in the process of preparing papers to be filed urgently before the High Court in Johannesburg for the matter to be heard tomorrow [Wednesday] at 10am. Among other issues‚ the club will seek to interdict the promotion play-offs from beginning on Wednesday May 16 at 3pm.
"This will be sought pending an urgent review of the arbitrator’s award this [Tuesday] morning," the Ajax statement said.
Ndoro has also played for Orlando Pirates and Saudi Arabian club Al-Faisaly in the 2017-18 season‚ but Ajax maintain there were extenuating circumstances‚ including that the player was not paid for some months by the Saudis.
Platinum Stars are due to take Ajax’s place in the relegation-promotion play-off clash against Leopards at Thohoyandou Stadium. Stars‚ who were relegated from the PSL a few days ago‚ were given a lifeline by Mokhari’s ruling.
Club officials at Stars confirmed earlier on Tuesday that they were making plans to honour the fixture against Leopards. However, it now remains to be seen if the game will go ahead‚ given Ajax’s intention to stop the play-offs.
Stars club official Tebogo Mochadibane said that coach Roger de Sa was not available to talk to the media on Tuesday because he was in a meeting with his technical team and finalising plans for the team’s journey to Limpopo.
"We are planning to have the players leave Rustenburg as soon as possible this afternoon‚" Mochadibane said after the news of Ajax’s relegation broke on Tuesday morning.
"Fortunately‚ we never stopped training since our last league match last weekend because we were anticipating something like this.
"We didn’t know what we were waiting for, but decided to keep the players here in Rustenburg in case something like this happened‚" he said.
Mochadibane said that as part of Stars’ preparations‚ they had conducted video analysis of Leopards to give the players an idea of what to expect.
"After our last match of the season‚ the players did video analysis and I am happy they will be ready for the clash. Leopards are not an easy team to play, but our boys will go all out to work hard and try to save our PSL status‚" he said.
AmaZulu coach Cavin Johnson was fuming after his team was knocked out of the top-eight finishers by SuperSport following Ajax’s relegation.
The arbiter’s decision also had implications for other top-flight teams and AmaZulu’s top-eight place was snatched from them on a dramatic day in South African football.
Johnson said the decision was disgraceful.
"As a club we have not as yet decided on what decision to take‚" he said.
"I’m not sure if the club will find a way to challenge this. It’s a pity because we did our job on the field of play, but now an off-the-field decision has dealt a blow to all of that.
"You can imagine what this will to do our players’ morale‚ the fans and the club, which will lose money as a result of not now qualifying for next year’s MTN 8 competition."
Ajax have 72 hours to appeal against Mokhari’s decision at the Court of Arbitration for Sports in Zurich‚ Switzerland.
TimesLIVE, additional reporting Mahlatse Mphahlele