Anarchy broke out in the city of Bloemfontein this past week as disgruntled supporters burnt tyres, stoned cars and trashed the streets. These incidents followed reports that Bloemfontein Celtic has been sold to a Kimberley businessman for R60 million. Fans are appealing with the owner, Max Tshababala not to sell the club to buyers outside Bloemfontein.
Bloemfontein Celtic Chief Executive Officer, Khumbulani Konco has denied the club being sold despite reports stating otherwise, he goes on record saying “Celtic has not been sold. We are trying to defuse the situation that has been caused by the reports that the club has been sold”.
Tshabalala has admitted that he has been struggling financially to maintain the club and had to finance players’ salaries out of his own pocket. He went on to indicate that his own business interests have taken a serious knock as a result. Earlier in January the Sowetan reported that Celtic had cash-flow problems amid claims of unpaid salaries towards the end of last year. Coach Veselin Jelusic is also believed to be on his way out, with some insiders alleging that he has not been paid for three months.
Celtic’s major financial woes might put their partnership with its top tier sponsor, MTN in jeopardy. MTN – a giant in mobile telephone networks, is the longest title sponsor of Phunya Sele Sele since the 2010-11 season. The deal was reportedly worth R130 million and Celtic supposedly received R30 Million per year. On Wednesday the club revealed that the Executive Committee did indeed meet with the Sol Plaatje Municipality on a possibility of playing some home games in Kimberley.
It is speculated that the deal was worth more than R10m, but despite the welcoming prospect of the deal, nothing was officially signed. In an attempt to assist in finding a solution to keep the club in Bloemfontein, the Mangaung mayor Olly Mlamlelo along with the club owner Tshabalala will be meeting with local business people to help find a possible buyer.