Home Sport Richards Bay want to go ‘home’ after securing Premiership berth

Richards Bay want to go ‘home’ after securing Premiership berth

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“The municipality must do the honourable thing,” says chairman Jomo Biyela as Richards Bay eye return to the Umhlathuze Sports Complex.

Richardsbay chairman Sfiso ‘Jomo’ Biyela speaks to the supporters and his players during the DStv Premiership 2023/24 football match between Richards Bay and Stellenbosch FC at King Zwelithini Stadium on 25 May 2024. Picture: Gerhard Duraan, BackpagePix

RICHARDS Bay owner Jomo Biyela has urged the Umhlathuze Municipality to speedily facilitate their wish to return to the Umhlathuze Sports Complex for the upcoming Premiership season.

The Natal Rich Boyz retained their top-flight status on Wednesday as they thumped Baroka FC 4-0 to win the three-team PSL promotion/relegation play-offs.

The KwaZulu-Natal outfit have been forced to play their home games at the King Zwelithini Stadium in Umlazi, Durban, for the two seasons they’ve been in the top flight, with their previous home deemed not up to PSL standards.

According to reports, the local municipality has had to throw nearly R200 million towards the renovation of the stadium in the north of the province.

Biyela previously stated publicly that they had expected to play the second round of the 2023/24 league season at the stadium but that did not materialise with the work on the stadium not completed.

The club have also been using Empangeni High School’s training facilities to prepare for their Premiership matches.

Speaking at King Zwelithini Stadium after his side secured at least a third season in the top flight, Biyela cut a slightly frustrated figure at the slow progress made to return the club to their home base.

He believes that part of the reason his team have been drawn into near relegation in the past two seasons is because they were “forced to play away from our people”.

“We need to go back to Richards Bay (to avoid being in another relegation battle); that’s the first thing, as long as we’re not playing in Richards Bay we will always have challenges,” he said.

“If we come here (King Zwelithini), how much are we spending here? We hire these grounds, we come the day before so we need to hire accommodation, and we also have to hire these grounds for our final preparations, and we don’t have a sponsor so what do you expect us to do? As long as we are playing away from home, we’ll always have challenges.

“We are waiting on the municipality to finalise everything.

“I’m not sure whether they’re interested in meeting with us but the issue here is that they must do the honourable thing. We named this club Richards Bay FC because we want it to be owned by the people and not Jomo Biyela.

“We are hoping that after this (retaining their status), they will take us seriously and try to make it a point that come August, we are able to play in Richards Bay.”

The club demonstrated great resilience and quality to beat off the challenge of Baroka and the University of Pretoria in the play-offs under the guidance of head coach Vusumuzi Vilakazi.

Both Vilakazi and Biyela have expressed their desire to continue their partnership at the club into the next season as they begin their recruitment process alongside their plans to return to Umhlathuze.

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