Hollywoodbets Sports Blog: Who is responsible for these poor pitches?

Who is responsible for these poor pitches?

AmaZulu striker Bongi Ntuli (Image Copyright - Steve Haag Sports)

South African football stadiums are at their worst state ever with teams now being forced to play matches in their alternative grounds instead of their preferred venues. This has proved to be costly, especially for the teams who are struggling at the bottom end of the table. AmaZulu, Bloemfontein Celtic and Chippa United are notable teams affected by these poor conditions.

Image Copyright - Steve Haag Sports.

The biggest question asked by many local fans is: who manages these stadiums? There seem to be uncertainties and the answers are never clear, which makes one draw the conclusion that there is a different setup or agreement in each province.

On the 1st of December 2019, AmaZulu hosted Maritzburg United in a much-anticipated KZN derby at a diabolical King Zwelithini stadium. The pitch was extremely terrible. Looking at that pitch, everyone would predict a dull goalless draw with very few chances. Maritzburg United coach Eric Tinkler was very critical after the game in his post-match interview with SuperSport TV.

“I said before, this pitch is not going to make it for a beautiful game. I really thought we could’ve possibly sneaked the three points but it’s tough, the pitch isn’t going to help and we can’t expect good football in a pitch like this unfortunately,” said the Maritzburg mentor.

After that game, AmaZulu were forced to leave their fortress and look for other alternative grounds with Princess Magogo their next preferred destination. The very same stadium that was deemed unplayable last season and, as expected, their excellent home form was jeopardized. Usuthu lost their home game to Chippa United, then moved to Moses Mabhida where they were thrashed 3-0 by Mamelodi Sundowns. Their last home tie was another defeat to SuperSport United and that game was played at the Kings Park Rugby Stadium which looks to be their new home until the situation changes. Fans who reside in Umlazi and surrounding areas now have to travel into the city to watch their beloved club. Imagine supporters traveling from other provinces. To make matters worse, venues of the game are announced just one week before kick-off, making a difficult ask even more challenging for the die-hard fans.

AmaZulu’s general manager Lunga Sokhela couldn’t hide his frustration about the issue and he tweeted: “In football, home ground advantage is very important. Last year this showed as we only lost two matches at King Zwelithini Stadium. This year our Municipality has failed to ensure our stadiums are in a playable condition so now we are gypsies. Totally unfair!!!!”

Bloemfontein Celtic play most of their home fixtures at the Dr. Petrus Molemela Stadium, formerly known as Seisa Ramabodu Stadium. Now, they too, were also forced to find another venue due to pitch fixing. Their home match against Chippa United will be played at the Nelson Mandela Bay which is the home venue for Chippa. It’s bizarre that teams are now forced to play their home matches in other provinces.

Another bizarre situation forced title-chasing Bidvest Wits to play some of their home matches at the Moses Mabhida stadium which includes a potential decider against Kaizer Chiefs. The students will feel hard done by because Moses Mabhida is an alternative home venue for Ernst Middendorp’s side.

Amakhosi recently celebrated their 50th anniversary at the FNB Stadium, and in all honesty, the pitch looked awful and it was by far the biggest disappointment in this historic event.

PSL teams should start owning some part of the venues so they can have full control as to how it’s managed because this is really affecting the beautiful game and its denying teams a fair opportunity of using home advantage. How is it fair if Celtic is forced to play Chippa in the Eastern Cape? Is it fair for Wits who are challenging for the league to play their home matches in another province? We can only hope that fortunes turn around quickly in order to bring back the joy and excitement into our league and give the home crowd something to smile about again.

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