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Ajax Cape Town fear Athlone Stadium security issues for Kaizer Chiefs clash

Posted: 21 February 2017 Time: 15:47

Ajax Cape Town CEO Ari Efstathiou has elaborated on his club’s concern with hosting current table-toppers Kaizer Chiefs at Athlone Stadium this weekend.

The Urban Warriors were due to host Amakhosi at Cape Town Stadium, yet due to the Ultra Music festival at the weekend, have had to find an alternative venue. Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban had been the club’s first choice, yet after losing their provisional booking, are only left with Athlone Stadium as an alternative – a ground they feel is not fit to host the volume of fans expected at the encounter.

Ajax will be meeting with stakeholders on Wednesday morning to decide whether the game will continue or be postponed, yet are wary of the venue’s limitations, as well as the security presence available, for Saturday’s fixture.

“Athlone Stadium has not been properly certified to host games, which is an additional issue that’s come up in the priority meetings,” Efstathiou told reporters. “So the stadium isn’t certified to play. I’ve been speaking to the chairlady who said that until she has a written document from the priority meeting saying the game can’t be played, she can’t make a decision.

“We have to follow instructions by the PSL to have the game, subject to approval. If they give it to us, the game is on. If not, I don’t know what will happen.

“On Saturday the police have three events – the Ultra Festival, the rugby [at Newlands Stadium] and the soccer game, so they are also stretched. They’ve told us they will appoint 60 personnel outside the stadium for the game, and we are responsible for 400 inside the stadium. These are the facts.”

Efstathiou claims the PSL “says we won’t have a problem if we cap the tickets at 21 000”, yet is concerned a larger fan-base, using examples of the past, will put the lives of the supporters in danger.

“Should we have a loss of life, how will that measure against buying tickets?” he said. “It makes no sense to me whatsoever. We gave the option to move to Durban on 7 February, which was 18 days’ notice, but it wasn’t taken up.

“For the Sundowns game at Athlone last year, we sold around 10 000 tickets, but had 5000 spectators at the gate without tickets. It became very volatile and we had to decide whether to open the gates and have possible problems on the inside with lack of security, or keep the gates closed and have problems on the outside. I took the decision to open the gates as I thought it would be much safer, but it was not a comfortable situation, and very risky – if something had happened, I would have been held liable and receive a criminal record. So this is not that simple.”

When reached for comment, PSL communications officer Lux September refused to respond to the statements made by Ajax, simply saying on record: “As far as we are concerned, the match will be taking place on 25 February at Athlone Stadium. We have been in constant written correspondence with the club, but can’t divulge that information.”

A further decision on the game will be made following Wednesday’s meeting, scheduled for 10h00.

Article by: Staff Reporter
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