By: Mandisa Ntuli
Reports about Bloemfontein Celtics being sold have left many of the club’s supporters disheartened. The team has one of the best fanbase in the country. Siwelele fans do not only show up, they sing they hearts out too. The Dr Petrus Molemela stadium is known for its electrifying atmosphere whether it is a weekday or the weekend. The said new owner is set to be moving the team to a new province.
Solomon Moses who has been a Celtics supporter all his life said,” Celtics is more than a football club to me, it is an avenue of emotional release in times of solitude on one hand and an epoch of entertainment on the other. It gives me a sense of belonging and makes me feel loved and in reciprocity, I love it to bits”. Moses continued to share that; the founding members of Bloemfontein Celtics had a vision that this club would be run as a professional Football Club that the people of Bloemfontein will be proud of. In 1969, founder members had a vision that Bloemfontein Celtic would be more than a business entity but also an opium for the people of Bloemfontein, grounded and entrenched to them.
He further explained how the sale of the club would affect him and the people of Bloemfontein, “It would be a feeling of everlasting loss to me, supporters, people of Bloemfontein and Free State at large. Resonating renditions of Siwelele songs could be a thing of the past.” According to Moses, the youth of Bloemfontein could be susceptible to moral decay because of the lack of entertainment activity that would have been brought by Bloemfontein Celtic games in the city which could also lead to high crime rate in the township. Poverty could also increase exponentially, as vendors who have stalls in the stadium would lose a lot and would be unable to feed their families. In each and every game hosted at the stadium, security personnel of about 200 people is hired to perform the function, so without Bloemfontein Celtic, this could be a thing of the past and joblessness would become a worse problem.
Vuyo James, a fan residing in Rocklands next to the Dr Petrus Molemela stadium said “The communities of Mangaung have played a huge role in the formation, as well as maintenance of Bloemfontein Celtics. This team used to struggle a lot, hence the name ‘Masokolara’ meaning those who struggle. Individuals from communities used to use their own private cars to transport players to games, and their hard earned money.” He further mentioned that the communities around Mangaung and the broader Free State province took it upon themselves to carry this team on their shoulders and never lost hope. The buying of the status of another team is not unheard of, but Bloemfontein Celtic, according to James, is not just another team, it is not a team that was founded by a single individual. “It’s unimaginable what would happen if the team were to be relocated”, he said. The mood in James’ community will never be the same, and he fears that the nature of people could very well change. It is a way of life for the people here, the team has been a permanent presence in that community’s livelihoods, and relocation would be like losing a part of oneself. “I doubt the people would let the sale go through just like that,” he concludes.
Moses, on the other hand, further mentioned that supporters tried to intervene by coming up with documented strategies of how to raise funds in order to assist the club to regain financial viability but management failed to implement those strategies. “The only answer to Bloemfontein Celtic problem is for the current chairman to sell the team to a capable businessperson who would run the club professionally. The new owner must not to take the club out of Bloemfontein,” he said. Moses then advocates that it would be advisable to allow Bloemfontein Celtic Supporters to buy at least 10% shares of the team and have a say in the administration of the club.
The next couple of weeks will see the potential sale of Celtics unfold.