UMLILO will keep the flame burning in Nelson Mandela Bay – at least for now.
Bay United football club has been sold to a Limpopo company, but it will be based in Port Elizabeth this season.
The new owners are Striving Mind Trading 522 CC, headed by Julia Mogaladi. She is the wife of John Mogaladi, chairman of Limpopo-based Winners Park which was relegated from the National First Division at the end of last season.
Under the Premier Soccer League rules, the new owners can only apply to relocate Bay United for the 2011/12 season.
The club, on the verge of liquidation, was put up for sale at the end of a dramatic National First Division season when it lost out at the last moment on returning to top flight football in February.
Ten bidders vied for the club, with two from the Eastern Cape unable to raise funds. Offers ranged from R5-million to R7-million, but it was sold at a lesser price to Striving Mind, the only bidder willing to keep the team in Port Elizabeth.
Former owner Sipho Pityana said: “We had the option to liquidate the club and just walk away, but to protect the interests of the people who served us loyally and the concerns raised by supporters, we decided to sell and to ensure that the club did not migrate from PE.”
A big problem over the past two seasons was lack of a training and home ground.
“It is very important that this is resolved,” Pityana said. “I do not see why the team cannot be allowed to play at the beautiful new stadium. If rugby can do it, so can soccer. There is not much difference between Bay United and EP rugby – they are both competing in the First Division. Also, if EP rugby have their offices at the new stadium, then so should Bay United.
“It is truly important for the municipality to come on board, as well as the corporate companies in the region. It is time that soccer is taken seriously in this region.”