Swallows FC’s lifetime president Panyaza Lesufi has opened up about the financial troubles the club went through this past season where they were almost relegated.
The Dube Birds survived relegation through the PSL playoffs last week and Lesufi has blamed the situation on financial difficulties the club went through.
He says those problems would not have surfaced had their sponsorship with Telkom been approved by the PSL.
“It’s very difficult to run a PSL club without a sponsor. We had concluded a deal with Telkom, we even got the sponsorship letter,” says Lesufi as quoted by the Sunday World.
“We worked and budgeted around that sponsorship deal and we thought it was going to be approved by the powers that be. But we were caught up in a fight between two big bulls in broadcasting.
“We were told that Telkom would be a conflict of interest to the broadcaster’s sponsor SuperSport (via MultiChoice). We were just a small piece in the battle of the two giants,” explains the Gauteng MEC for Education.
“I am still surprised because when Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs play, the match is shown on TelkomOne. Those were the politics and they really affected us as a club.
“This whole thing contributed 80% to our downfall. It is no secret that we are struggling financially. Other clubs too are facing difficulties and they released players and their big earners en masse.
“It was even worse when there were no spectators at the matches. This was a season to forget, and we almost lost our PSL status.”
Rumours of a financial crisis at Swallows started surfacing a few weeks after the start of last season. It was widely reported that some players were not paid their full salaries or on time.
One of those, Tebogo Langerman even stopped training as he was not paid and some were reported to have staged a stay away towards the end of the season.
Phakaaathi can however now reveal that Swallows have another sponsor lined up.
“There was a condition that they should survive relegation and then everything would be finalised.
“I cannot tell you the name of the sponsor at the moment but there is definitely something on the pipeline for Swallows,” said a club official who asked not to be named as yet.