Despite losing key players, Bloemfontein Celtic CEO Khumbulani Konco maintains that all is in order at the club.
Recently, the club lost the services of its longest-serving players and goalminder Patrick Tingnyemb, who reunited with his former coach at Chippa United last week following an emotional announcement on social media.
Tingnyemb’s departure came as no surprise as he weas at loggerheads with management over outstanding monies owed to players by the club.
Known for its raiding at the club, Orlando Pirates wasted no time announcing the three signings from the Siwelele. The Buccaneers signed Bongani Sam who many thought would reunite with his former coach, Steve Komphel,a at Golden Arrows. Tshegofatso Mabasa and Kabelo Dlamini followed suit as they also signed on the dotted line at Pirates.
The latest player set to leave the Siwelele is hard-working Ndumiso Mabena, whose agent is currently in negotiations with Maritzburg United and SuperSport United over his services. If Mabena leaves, he will become the fifth player to leave Celtic.
Despite the exodus of players, the club finds itself in a tough place as it is expected to replace those that have left. However, with its ongoing financial woes, it’s going to be difficult for the club to lure quality players unlike other PSL teams.
Quizzed about the replacement of the four players that have left, Konco said the team has not yet gone to the market.
Konco did, however, reject suggestions that Mabena was on his way out, saying this was not true.
In a brief WhatsApp message, Konco responded by saying “the above not true.”
However, his side of the story was rejected by a source at the club who confirmed that negotiations between Mabena, 31, and SuperSport were at an advanced stage as his contract with Celtic expires at the end of this month.
“He’s on his way to SuperSport. The deal is about 80 percent done. I am expecting him to sign a pre-contract soon, maybe next week,” revealed the source.
“Age is no longer on his side, so it’s important for him to get a contract that will ensure he’s well off after retirement… As much as he’s excited to be joining SuperSport he still gives his all for Celtic.”
The source noted the main reason Mabena is leaving Phunya Sele Sele was the club’s well-documented financial woes.
“I get a sense that the main push for him to go is because Celtic can’t afford to offer him an improved salary,” he added.
Mabena could not be reached for comment as his phone was constantly switched off while SuperSport spokesperson Brian Moshoeshoe referred all queries about the club’s transfer dealings to CEO Stan Matthews. Matthews’ phone went unanswered.
With ongoing financial challenges at the club, it emerged this week that Celtic have written a letter to Mangaung Local Municipality and the Free State provincial government asking for financial assistance.
However, Konco dismissed this “as nothing but a rumour”.
Sources inside the municipality who spoke to The Weekly said a letter had indeed been submitted to the metro.
“They did not only submit it to us, but it was also submitted to the provincial government,” they added.
Club owner Max Tshabalala showed up on the second last day fo the ANC Lekgotla for what appeared to be a meeting with Free State Director General Kopung Ralikontsane, who has previously led a provincial team tasked to seek ways of addressing the team’s financial woes.
The provincial government earlier injected R2.5 million into the team to help it avoid having to play its home games in other provinces as had been proposed.