Cape Town City FC might find themselves without a home this season if a petition brought by FC Kapstadt, a third division side, is successful.
The local soccer clubs are locked in a turf war over the use of the Hartleyvale Stadium in Observatory.
The community club has accused the City of Cape Town of unfairness and favouring the PSL team over them.
According to FC Kapstadt President Zaid Omar, whose team has been training at the stadium since 2008, Cape Town City’s lease expired in December.
But instead of advertising the space to the community, he says the City of Cape Town simply renewed the soccer club’s lease, which goes against regulations.
The two clubs butted heads previously in 2017 when the City awarded the lease of the top fields at the stadium to Cape Town City, even though FC Kapstadt have traditionally called the field home.
The two teams currently both use the stadium but different fields.
“Cape Town City FC started the process wrongfully in 2017 when they ignored FC Kapstadt and the proper procedure,” says Omar.
“You don’t just usurp or bulldoze your way onto another club’s field, do you?”
“Cape Town City currently use Hartleyvale Stadium A field and Malta Park B Field. We use Hartleyvale Stadium D field. We always used Hartleyvale A and D fields since 2008.“
In 2017, the City awarded a lease to Cape Town City for exclusive use of the fields at Malta Park B and Hartleyvale A in Observatory.
But Omar says neither the community nor local sports entities were consulted, “nor did it (the City) initiate any public participation process regarding plans for the two precincts, which should have been mandatory under the Municipal Systems Act”.
He said that the lease to Cape Town City represented a shift in the use of public space for private use.
“The first time that the Observatory community knew about the lease in 2017 was when iron fences appeared around the Malta Park fields and locks appeared that kept residents out and unable to use the fields.”
He says in addition, the rental that the City has charged Cape Town City amounts to 23 cents per square metre per month excluding VAT, “a laughably small amount”.
“FC Kapstadt and other amateur clubs, who are mostly involved in sports development for young people, have been displaced from fields they would have normally used because of the exclusive lease arrangements favouring Cape Town City Football Club.
“Despite verbal commitments from the City for a long-term lease on Hartleyvale Stadium A and D fields and the club’s stringent efforts to secure a lease for their operations, FC Kapstadt, unlike Cape Town City FC, have been unable to confirm their lease arrangements, despite having waited years for confirmation of what was agreed in meetings with the City.”
Omar is hoping that, with enough backing from the community and other business people, they will stop the City from renewing the lease contract with the Citizens, as Cape Town City FC is known.
“We know that the lease to Cape Town City FC expired on 31 December. City officials have not re-advertised the lease, nor have they given notice of any consultative process regarding this lease.
“If they have already concluded a lease with the City of Cape Town FC, they have done so behind closed doors and in violation of the Municipal Services Act.”
Cape Town City FC media officer Julian Bailey, however, says the have followed all of the City’s processes in relation to the lease agreement.
“We kindly ask that you direct any further questions in this regard to the City directly," he said.
The municipality denied any wrongdoing and said it entered into a lease agreement with the PSL club after an open and transparent process which allowed for public comment and objection.
“Recreation and Parks has attended numerous meetings to ensure that each club has sufficient space allocated to them in order for each party to apply for their own lease with the City,” said a City statement.
“The City now has to consider both lease applications – one from FC Kapstadt and one from Cape Town City Sporting Club – in terms of prevailing statutory requirements and standard business processes.”