Comitis brothers leave Ajax after feud

Ajax was formed in 1999 by Rob Moore and John Comitis with the amalgamation of two Cape Town-based teams, Seven Stars and Cape Town Spurs, at a time when AFC Ajax expanded their worldwide talent-feeder network to South Africa.

Over the past season the club has borne the brunt of feuding between the Comitis and the Efstathiou families who own Cape Town Stars, the company that holds 49 percent of Ajax Cape Town, in conjunction with 51 percent majority shareholder, Ajax Amsterdam.

After stepping down as CEO in 2009, John Comitis was appointed honorary life chairman of the club by former Ajax Amsterdam CEO Rik van den Boog in May 2011, but the appointment was marred by a power struggle involving the Comitis brothers and the three Efstathiou brothers, Ari, Alex and Nick. 

Rumours that the club would be liquidated were circulating last November, before an “outraged” statement from Ajax Amsterdam insisting the majority shareholder would “not permit liquidation”.

Early this morning the Comitis brothers sent out a joint press release announcing that they will sell their shares in the club.

“After a very tough season, where we fought hard until the end against the possibility of relegation, and successfully saved our PSL status for next season, one of the families had to take a positive step in putting their personal interests aside for the good of the club. We therefore decided to offer to sell our shares or to buy the shares held by the Efstathiou brothers, at the option of the Efstathious, at the same price, which was to us the only fair way to do it.”

With Santos being relegated in 2012, and Chippa United going straight back down to the First Division this season, the Comitises say Cape Town cannot afford in-fighting in its last remaining top flight club.

“Cape Town could not afford to lose its last PSL club and we could not allow family feuding to ruin Ajax CT and the relationship with Ajax Amsterdam, which we have nurtured and developed for over 12 years, since putting the deal together which brought Ajax to South Africa in the first place.

“The Efstathious have elected to accept our offer to sell our shares, rather than our offer to buy their shares, and we are happy either way that Ajax Cape Town is the winner, with the guidance of Ajax Amsterdam to count on. Our first prize was to remain on, but unless we took this bold step to make this offer, the wrangling would only have continued to harm the club into next season and beyond.

“With Muhsin [Ertugral] at the helm and the contacts we have already initiated during the off season for the strengthening of the squad, and which we willingly pass over to the new administration, we have every confidence that the club will bounce back and have a successful season.”

The brothers conclude: “We would like to thank all the fans personally for embracing us over the years, the football fraternity for supporting us, our loyal staff and every player that has worn the Ajax jersey over the last decade.

“We salute you.

“We would also like to thank Ajax Amsterdam for what has been an amazing decade of enjoyable success. The Ajax brand has changed the landscape of South African football.

“The good times and victories we have experienced at Ajax CT, including the brilliant youth that has emerged through our academy over the years, have far surpassed our expectations.”

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