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‘Negotiations under way to host Celtic’

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High-level negotiations for Kimberley to accommodate the PSL outfit are nearing completion

Picture: Supplied

DESPITE the Sol Plaatje municipal mayor’s office claiming to carry no knowledge of negotiations to bring Bloemfontein Celtic Football Club to Kimberley, the local soccer authority has confirmed that a deal for the PSL team to play matches in the city is being negotiated and is all but inevitable.

This comes after financial woes at Celtic spawned reports that the club had been sold to an unknown Northern Cape businessman for apparently R60 million, leaving supporters from Bloemfontein outraged.

The current Celtic owner, Max Tshabalala, has refuted claims that the sale has taken place.

While local government yesterday also denied knowledge of any discussions, several role-players involved in the process, including the Sol Plaatje Local Football Association (SPLFA) and the Griqualand West Rugby Union (GWRU), have verified that discussions over hosting rights are under way.

In an exclusive interview, the chairperson of the SPLFA, Colin Bosman, confirmed yesterday that high-level negotiations for Kimberley to accommodate the PSL outfit were nearing completion.

However, he emphasised that the ongoing talks between the SPLFA, Celtic, the Sol Plaatje Municipality and various other role-players, pertain specifically to the possibility of Celtic competing in the city and had nothing to do with the sale of the team.

“As far as we are concerned, there is no local investor (who bought Celtic),” Bosman said yesterday. “If there was someone who had R60 million to spend, why use it all to buy a side from elsewhere when there are many more feasible opportunities to invest in football that already exist in the Province?

“We have been conducting high-level negotiations with Celtic but these have been for the rights to host matches and have had nothing to do with the sale of the team.”

Bosman said that the ideal outcome for the SPLFA and the local economy would be for the Bloemfontein-based team to play all their upcoming home fixtures in Kimberley, but he added that this would depend on the outcome of the negotiations.

He also said that the first outing for Celtic in Kimberley could take place as early as next season, but venues still needed to be confirmed by the PSL before they are able to release their new fixtures.

“From a football perspective, the SPLFA is thrilled at the prospect of hosting Celtic as the local game really stands to benefit through clinics and other development programmes.

“Our LFA boasts elite teams who, along with the Sol Plaatje University, are well positioned to become a feeder for the PSL team.

“In terms of local business, Celtic has been an economic jewel for the Free State and hosting the side would be a great boost for Kimberley.

“These games would mean more visitors to the city on a regular basis as capacity crowds are expected to fill Griqua Rugby’s 12 000-seater stadium.

“We would need the help of Nocci and other bodies to encourage Kimberley businesses to extend their trading hours in order to accommodate these visitors but these games would also be great for the people and the economy through job creation.”

Meanwhile, late yesterday afternoon, the spokesperson for the mayor’s office, George Mosimane, denied any knowledge of Kimberley hosting Celtic.

“We are aware of the reports in the media,” said Mosimane. “However, we are not familiar with any of these dealings as our office has not been involved in any discussions with the club.”