Max Tshabalala. Picture: SUPPLIED
Max Tshabalala. Picture: SUPPLIED

Bloemfontein Celtic’s beleaguered and broke owner, Max Tshabalala, has asked the Premier Soccer League (PSL) for money to help pay his players and avoid a meltdown of the club in the latest twist to an increasingly drawn-out saga

Business Day has learnt that Tshabalala asked the PSL executive committee for a significant loan to tide over his club as he awaits new offers to purchase the franchise.

Tshabalala is back in control again after the proposed sale of the club to business people Sinki Leshababane and Moeketsi Mosola fell through a fortnight ago. It has meant another month without pay for players‚ who last week refused to train in protest but did play on Sunday.

They lost their first game of the season, going down 1-0 at home to Maritzburg United.

Tshabalala is heavily in debt after the collapse of his tender empire‚ with money owed to banks and the SA Revenue Service (Sars).

An array of his vehicles were auctioned earlier in September and six houses have been repossessed by the bank‚ according to insiders. This is on top of a large tax bill, which he and Celtic owe to Sars.

The debt pile at Celtic is the reason for the collapse of the proposed sale to Leshababane and Mosola. Insiders say their lawyers advised them against going ahead after due diligence of Celtic’s books revealed unpaid transfer fees‚ signing-on fees‚ salaries and tax.

The proposed new owners had already advanced R3m to keep the club ticking over and to pay wages. They had effectively been in control of Celtic since the start of the season.

They now want their money back‚ claiming Tshabalala was negotiating in bad faith, but they will have to get in a long queue of debtors.

Tshabalala‚ who has denied negotiating in bad faith‚ is said to owe R60m-R70m.

He received millions in tenders from the Free State provincial government but fell foul of political leaders and his empire has come crashing down as the money well runs dry. Celtic is for sale at R40m but any prospective owners will be taking on significant debt.

Influential PSL figures have advised Tshabalala to give away the club and let the new owner take over the debt‚ otherwise he is going to sink into an even deeper hole. But Tshabalala is obviously keen to make some money out of the deal to alleviate his situation.

It is understood there has been interest from Jimmy Augousti‚ the previous owner and a former player.

Augousti is likely the only chance to keep the club in the Free State‚ which Tshabalala said was his preference.

However, now he is happy to sell anywhere‚ he said at the weekend.