by SAVIOUS KWINIKA
POLOKWANE – THE Limpopo Province believes it is high time local teams stopped their trend of ever fighting relegation but justify the provincial government’s spending on them.
Perhaps inexplicably, teams from South Africa’s northernmost province are usually caught in the relegation quagmire every season.
The current campaign that has resumed after months of inactivity because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown is no different.
The three sides from Limpopo – Baroka, Black Leopards and Polokwane City- are all precariously placed.
With six matches to play, they occupy the bottom four places alongside AmaZulu.
Leopards are rock bottom of the 16-team log with 20 points from 24 games.
They have three points less than the three other relegation candidates, with Baroka 13th and Polokwane 14th.
Baroka were bundled out of the Nedbank Cup semifinals by Bloemfontein Celtic last weekend.
Authorities expressed worry that for the umpteenth time, Polokwane sides are relegation candidates despite each receiving financial incentives of R1 million from the province’s coffers every financial year.
The sides receive the funds through the Limpopo Tourism Authority (LTA) as part of plans to boost the hospitality sector in the province.
“We give them R1 million every financial year,” Thandi Moraka, the Member of the Executive Committee (MEC) for Sport, Arts and Culture said.
She spoke after a just-concluded visit to the three sides as part of monitoring compliance of COVID-19 protocols ahead of their departure to Gauteng to finish the season.
“So, they are getting the necessary support from government. The only thing they can do for us justifying that allocation we are giving them because at the end of the day, there should be value for money in everything we are doing.”
The MEC insisted, therefore, the issue of the teams ever fighting relegation was not to do with financial incentives.
“It’s more on the performance of the teams themselves.”
Moraka said relegation would have an impact on tourism, particularly the benefits to the economy when they host matches. This increases hotel bookings.
“We don’t want to see any team from Limpopo being relegated from PSL,” she insisted.
Moraka welcome the addition of Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila as the fourth PSL team from the province.
The Glad Africa Championship campaigners have bought the status of Bidvest Wits.
“We are excited as a province because our intention is to see us dominating professional football at that level of PSL (Premier Soccer League),” Moraka said.
She has visited the three local teams as part of monitoring lockdown regulations compliance as the sides leave for Gauteng.
The government official rounded off the exercise with a visit to Polokwane City, days after a similar exercise at Baroka FC and Black Leopards.
Impressed with the compliance system, she said the technical team and players were positive about surviving the drop.
“They have given us assurance that the team will be campaigning in the PSL next season,” Moraka said.
The teams were presented with sanitisers, masks and thermometers.
“The support and motivation will go a long way in boosting their morale. Theirs is just to focus on the field of play and make us proud as a province,” Moraka said.
– CAJ News