Chief explains why Bidvest sold Wits


Tshifhiwa Thidiela has revealed why he thinks Bidvest Wits sold their PSL status and explains why Black Leopards never had to despite fewer resources.

After the recent news about Wits being taken over by Tshakhuma Tsha Madzhivhandila, we contacted the Venda-based side and spoke to 'Chief' to find out how they are able to do it, and what keeps them going.

Many club owners have simply bought their way into the PSL – check out 11 of the most recent status sales above!

Founded in 1983, Leopards was later taken over by the Thidiela family who have turned it into the well-respected brand it has become today.

"Most people you find they do things because of what they see other people doing," Thidiela tells

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"Let me make an example, we were the first team to buy our own team bus. Because there's a need for it. We are located in Limpopo and we must travel almost 500 kilometres to get to the airport if we are going to Durban or anywhere else.

"But the major thing now, the football there [in Venda], it's not about us, it's for the community, that's why I'm saying it's not a business. You need to have patience. You must be in it for the right reasons. It is a team that is there for the community. We even count how many peanuts a person has sold; how many people are getting to benefit.

"You look at the garages when there's matches, you look at hotels that people will be coming to in the area. Tourism is improving. You know taxi people and buses, it means more trips for them, more work for them you understand? So those are the things that are core today for the community.

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"Remember our businesses are in Joburg. We were serving people in Johannesburg but our chairman [David Thidiela] said you know, 'I can see I'm doing things for people in Joburg but what is it that I'm doing for people back home?' And it's always been his philosophy to say, 'I must remember where I come from and I must do something for the people of where I come from.'

"We are traveling in our own lane you know and financially with sponsorships we cannot go and compete against Kaizer Chiefs. You need to understand where you are, and be able to do things within your reach.

"Most of the teams are selling [their status] because they run at a loss. You get paid maybe R2-million from the PSL grant that comes in. If your bill is at R2.5-million or R3-million that means you are running at a loss.

"Bidvest is one of the richest companies in the country but because they are business people, they are disposing of Bidvest Wits because they can see they are only putting in money but there's no return. It's not that they've got financial problems or they don't have money.

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"But obviously the major credit must go to the Leopards chairman [David Thidiela] himself. I can tell you, in the first division we were running at a loss of about R500 000 back then, before the grant was taken to R500 000 [last year]. Like you'd have R300 000 [the previous grant amount] but your bill is at R800 000. That means there must be R500 000 every month that comes from somewhere.

"Now our problem with most of the teams, you find people who came into football who did not go through the ranks, or who didn't study the way of football. You would have people who come into football because they have got tenders and money. Success in football, it's got nothing to do with money. You can have all the money in the world and still fail.

"Now when we have team owners who just come for branding purposes, they want to be seen, that kind of life you cannot sustain. There were a lot of people [like that] in the ABC Motsepe League back then when it was still Vodacom. We even had owners who came to matches with helicopters you know.

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"Teams sometimes want to look good outside, while they are dying inside. I would go and give people free entrance to the stadium – entrance fee it's the source of my revenue as a club. I can't go buy t-shirts and give them to people for free. They must buy. But because we want to compete and look good on TV for people, we go and do wrong things.

"You give supporters free tickets and free bus, but you are killing the football industry, that's why today we still charge R40 for soccer whereas rugby they charge around R200, R300. And the worse thing is, when you go and make something free, others in the long-run they will not be interested in it because it has no value.

"If we have money, let us improve our product. Put money into more quality players, put money maybe into entertainment at stadiums. In business, if you have R20 you can't go and spend R25. You must live within your means. I think as a brand, Black Leopards falls amongst the top ones.

"Obviously, it's history. It will then be very, very costly [to buy]. But my advice to the people who want [a PSL status], they must go through the ranks. You need to go through the lower leagues and understand the whole footballing thing."

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