By Robert Matakanye,
Ajax Cape Town have finally accepted their relegation fate, signalling a heady fall from grace for the club that is 51 percent owned by Dutch giants Ajax Amsterdam.
The Urban Warriors have been a steady producer of talent for the South African game — and the European market — for the past two decades, but now find themselves out of the top-flight and into the rough and tumble of the National First Division.
It is not quite the end of the tale; Ajax may yet be elevated back to 15th in the 2017/18 league table somewhere down the line if the Premier Soccer League are unsuccessful in their bid to appeal the ruling of Judge Denise Fisher, who had set aside Advocate William Mokhari’s arbitration award on the basis that he was not the correct forum to hear the manner.
But that appeal could take anywhere from 4-12 weeks, and with the season set to get under way on August 4, Ajax are looking for some path forward for their players, even if that means the second-tier.
“We are forced to take our place in NFD unless something happens, which we are not expecting,” Ajax CEO Ari Efstathiou told reporters on Friday.
“With the league starting on Saturday next week it put us in a difficult spot. But if we are successful, which we think we will be, what then?
“Unfortunately, once again time and legal procedure has trumped justice and we feel very strong about that. We still believe we have done everything in our power to follow the league’s rules. We never did anything outside the parameters of the rules.”
Efstathiou remains adamant about that, saying: “We have admitted we erred by signing Ndoro and legally we could have moved quicker, but we followed the process to the best of our ability.
“Unfortunately, once again time and legal procedure has trumped justice and we feel very strongly about that. We still believe we have done everything in our power to follow the league’s rules.”
Ajax were formed in 1999 by the amalgamation of Seven Stars and Cape Town Spurs. They have been a top-flight team ever since, finishing runners-up in the league on two previous occasions.
They managed just one top-eight finish in the previous six seasons though, a sign of their steady decline as they sold their best players for profit and switched to using mostly youngsters from their development system in the top-flight.