CAPE TOWN - BUSINESSWOMAN and club owner Shauwn “MaMkhize” Mkhize has become an instant newsmaker in South African football circles following her take-over of Bloemfontein Celtic and renaming the club Royal AM.
There are a trail of events that have gone before that shows that show the Durban business tycoon was prepared to do anything to own a Premiership club.
In October 2020, Mkhize bought GladAfrica Championship franchise Real Kings FC and later changed the name to Royal AM.
About a year later, in August 2021, Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila issued a statement. It read, in part: “We are delighted to announce that Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila Football Club has of 13 August 2021 acquired the status of Royal AM Football Club in the GladAfrica Championship League. Thus, Royal AM Football Club will change its name to TTM FC and relocate to Thohoyandou Stadium.”
At the time of this announcement, the name Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila had disappeared off football’s national landscape. In June 2021, TTM unveiled their new name – Marumo Gallants FC – at an official launch in Johannesburg.
And that seemingly was the end of TTM. The August 2021 announcement informed that following the purchase of the Royal AM Football Club, the name will be changed to Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila.
There was not a word from Mkhize about the sale, but it was widely reported that she sold the Royal AM franchise and the new owners had renamed it Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila. However, the name Royal AM was very much alive after the club challenged decisions by the PSL and Disciplinary Committee.
Three days later, came the news that Bloemfontein Celtic, a PSL franchise, had been sold, and bought by a person connected to Royal AM. By this time, Mkhize would have known that she was not eligible to buy a PSL franchise and be connected to a club in any official capacity over the next 12 months according to the rules set out in the PSL handbook.
Article 14.4 states that such a person may not acquire an interest directly or indirectly if they have directly or indirectly held an interest in another club.
The franchise was relocated to KwaZulu-Natal and renamed Real Kings. The name Royal AM would not have been approved because Royal AM, at the time, was a GladAfrica Championship franchise and were officially involved in the PSL promotion/relegation playoffs. Notably, on the PSL standings Royal AM still goes by the name of Real Kings.
On another note, Royal AM were also attempting to have the PSL and its acting chief executive Mato Madlala held in contempt of court after playoff matches took place.
Hence Real Kings came into being and understandably there is no mention of Mkhize. It was reported at the time that a relative of Mkhize was the buyer of the Celtic franchise and the owner of the new franchise named Real Kings.
The PSL statement at the time, in part, read: “The application to approve the transfer of the football club known until now as Bloemfontein Celtic Football Club from the seller to the acquirer, and the related approvals in respect of a name change and relocation served before the executive committee today.
"The executive committee considered the application and supporting documentation against the requirements of article 14 of the NSL Handbook".
A few days after the sale was concluded, PSL Chairman Irvin Khoza said the executive committee deliberated for three days before approving the sale. He added that never had it taken so long to consider a sale before approving. Khoza went to great lengths to say how grateful the PSL was that the Celtic franchise was sold because the former owner had been in dire straits.
In a sense he explained, the Celtic sale was a blessing in disguise because the PSL could resume the new season up and running with 16 teams, rather than 15. Celtic’s lot was so bad that their players had not been paid for some time and the club faced charges by Fifa who demanded they settle the R3million owed to their former goalkeeper Patrick Tignyemb.
As it turned out, the PSL paid Tignyemb directly from Celtic’s monthly grant and made sure the club was in a good standing and sold as a going concern.
Soon after the announcement, the PSL fined Royal AM R4m for the four playoffs games they failed to honour. There were other sanctions as well.
PSL legal head Michael Murphy explained at a recent press conference that TTM, who bought the Royal AM franchise, will pick up the tab for the monetary fines, which was more than R1m.
There were a few more court proceedings until, finally, Royal AM’s attempts to gain automatic promotion had been exhausted, and all efforts ran into a cul de sac. There was no longer a Royal AM club because its franchise was purchased by TTM. Certainly, there was no PSL registered club by that name then.
By this time, Mkhize had disappeared off the scene until stories broke saying she was responding to
allegations of unpaid wages and living conditions at her club, Royal AM. This was a bleak picture just a few days before the start of the Premiership season.
In subsequent media reports and match summaries, the name Real Kings is seldom used, and Mkhize is quoted at length as the owner of Royal AM. Even the media who reported on the name change from Celtic to Real Kings have used the name Royal AM.
Mkhize, meanwhile, had on one occasion referred to herself as the president of Royal AM.
Independent Media approached the PSL to establish the official name of the club, and if Mkhize holds down a position. Fhatuwani Mpfuni, the Head of Communications at the PSL replied that the official name of the club is Royal AM Football Club.
The matter of ownership could not be verified because of the requirements of the Promotion of Access to Information Act as well as the Protection of Personal Information Act which is now an important part of legislation aimed at protecting privacy.
In the light of what Khoza said at the press conference, it is now clear that the PSL would have been grateful that Celtic’s franchise was sold. According to Khoza, there is nothing the PSL can do if a club owner runs out of funds and is forced to sell the club.
The PSL does not have a business rescue plan in place, otherwise it would have helped Celtic survive the crisis. There are also no checks and balances in place, and little by way of due diligence to ensure the buyer can sustain the club for the medium and long term. This is why the TTM franchise changed hands twice in a matter of months.
It could have been catastrophic if the name Royal AM did not survive. After all, Mkhize initially bought a club for her son Andile Mpisane, hence the letters AM follows Royal. The name Royal AM has huge sentimental value for her.
The club also has extravagant AM branding on motor vehicles and attire which would be costly to replace.
Independent Media reached out to Mkhize for comment, but she did not respond on the same platform she used to address the media a few weeks ago when it was reported that some Royal AM players were allegedly not paid their salaries.
In the meantime, Mkhize is set for another showdown with the PSL, who has charged her for alleged racism and sexism regarding high court judge Roland Sutherland in a video on social media.
No Doubt, Mkhize is having a ball, dancing impressively in the stands as her team enjoys a purple patch whipping Kaizer Chiefs and TS Galaxy 4-1 and 4-2 respectively in their last two games.