Royal AM’s hopes of getting promotion to the DStv Premiership are looking increasingly bleak, after a judge on Monday dismissed, among other matters, a claim that they should be reinstated at the top of the 2020/21 GladAfrica Championship.
Judge L Windell of the Johannesburg High Court issued a damning 49-page judgement that gave no leeway to any of Royal AMs arguments, including an attempt to have Premier Soccer League CEO Mato Madlala charged with contempt of court.
As it stands, Sekhukhune United have gained automatic promotion to the DStv Premiership, after they were awarded three extra points by Advocate Hilton Epstein, in what has commonly become known as they ‘Epstein Award’, because Polokwane City failed to field the required amount of Under-23 players in a GladAfrica Championship match between the two sides on January 2.
This award was challenged by both Royal AM, owned by Shauwn Mkhize and Polokwane City, but the challenge was dismissed by a Judge DJP Sutherland, while a counter application from the National Soccer League (NSL) was successful.
Royal AM were thus ordered to appear in the promotion/relegation playoffs, but went to court themselves, and did get the play-offs postponed temporarily by Judge AJ Nyathi, pending the granting or non-granting of their leave to appeal the Sutherland ruling.
That leave to appeal was refused, however, and the play-offs went ahead, though Royal AM did not turn up for any of their matches, for which they have now been charged by the Premier Soccer League, and for which they are set to be penalised with 3-0 defeats in each of the matches they missed.
That disciplinary hearing was set for last weekend, but was subsequently postponed to this coming Saturday
All of this means that Chippa United will stay in the DStv Premiership, while Richards Bay, who did play with Chippa in the play-offs, also miss out, while Sekhukhune gain automatic promotion.
Therre were two main tenets of Royal AM’s argument that were dismissed outright by Judge Windell. The first was that anything in Judge Nyathi’s ruling meant that they had been reinstated as winners of the Glad Africa Championship. And the second was that Judge Nyathi’s ruling to postpone the playoffs held any standing at all once Judge Sutherland dismissed Royal AM’s leave to appeal.
Royal AM have taken their case to the Supreme Court of Appeal, however, and show no sign of relenting, so this saga could still have plenty of miles in its legs.