Listing the 5 Biggest South African Football Clubs Affected by Bankruptcy and Bad Business Deals

Listing the 5 Biggest South African Football Clubs Affected by Bankruptcy and Bad Business Deals

Jarryd Westerdale
updated at January 31, 2024 at 5:15 PM
In this article:
South Africa Premier Soccer League logo
ZA Premier League
South Africa
Moroka Swallows FC logo
Moroka Swallows FC
South Africa
Ajax Cape Town logo
Ajax Cape Town
South Africa
Bidvest Wits logo
Bidvest Wits
South Africa
  • Several South African football clubs have been lost to history or have had their status dissolved
  • Poor business decisions and worse financial management have led community assets to the brink
  • Moroka Swallows have been there once before and are threatening to disappear over the edge again

Loss may take many forms, from the loss of status and history to permanent erasure.

South African football has a fabled history and as new kings and queens enter the Kingdom with fresh gold, some elevate their positions and others turn fairytales into nightmares.

Moroka Swallows are the latest club flirting with oblivion as they haemorrhage players and sponsors while staring relegation, or worse, in the face.

Moroka Swallows, David Mogashoa, Panyaza Lesufi, PSL, bankrupt.
Moroka Swallows were saved by David Mogashoa and Panyaza Lesufi but their influence has waned in the interim years. Photo: @Dispatch_DD.
Source: Twitter

Sports Brief opens the vault to see which of the biggest clubs in South Africa fell due to unsound balance sheets.

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5 PSL clubs lost to bad business

1. Moroka Swallows

This is not the first time The Dube Birds have been close to bankruptcy. Panyaza Lesufi spearheaded a consortium that bought Maccabi FC in 2018, with the original Dube Birds being liquidated.

Lesufi handed over the reins to businessman David Mogashoa to focus on his political work. Since then, the club has hovered in mid-table until the financial backlog became too much for Mogashoa.

Swallows kit sponsor, Drip risks liquidation and players have been released wholesale. To add insult to injury, Mogashoa is believed to be funding Upington FC who are top of the second tier.

2. Bloemfontein Celtic

Possibly the most supported club outside of Soweto, Bloemfontein Celtic brought a sea of Green wherever they played.

Royal AM's Shauwn Mkhize bought Celtic's PSL status in 2021 and among the club's highlights has been the promotion of Mkhize's son, musician Andile Mpisane, to the first team

Royal AM were reportedly in financial trouble when they were saved by a controversial R27 million sponsorship by the Msunduzi municipality in KZN, as reported by News24.

Celtic survived in name, now operating as an amateur club playing in South Africa's third domestic tier. They still have three cups to their name with wins in the Mainstay Cup, MTN8 and Telkom Knockout.

3. Wits University FC

One of the oldest clubs in South African history was the victim of one of the most insulting pieces of footballing business in the country's history.

The JSE-Listed Bidvest Group sold Wits University FC's PSL status to Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila (TTM) on the eve of their 100-year anniversary.

TTM's Lawrence Mulaudzi moved the club to Limpopo and resold the club just eight months later, as reported by News24. The club has traded hands several times since then and now sit rock-bottom of the second tier, carrying the name 'Venda'.

The university revived the football team and continue to chase promotion from South Africa's third tier.

4. Manning Rangers

Rangers were the first winners of the new Premier Soccer League in 1996. Just 10 years later they were bankrupt.

Relegation was too big a financial burden and after almost 80 years of existence, were sold to the Fidentia Group, who would later be embroiled in a massive corruption scandal.

The remnants became known as iKapa Sporting and like most of the fallen giants, their ghost floats around the amateur regional leagues.

5. Cape Town Spurs

Not all South African football stories have an unhappy ending. Dutch giants, Ajax Amsterdam partnered with Cape Town Spurs to form Ajax Cape Town in 1999.

Success soon followed as they won the Telkom Knockout twice, the Nedbank Cup and the MTN8 in the span of 15 years. They finished second in the league three times, qualifying for ultimately unsuccessful continental runs.

A decline in fortunes saw them relegated and sold by their Dutch parents, with the current chairman suggesting Ajax were takers, not givers. IOL quoted Ari Efstathiou as saying:

"We were just a little pimple in South Africa. All they were interested in was seeing how many players they could get from us for the lowest price possible. They hardly contributed any money for 20 years."

Cape Town Spurs are bottom of the DStv Premiership and look destined for the second tier, but their foundation seems stable.

Safety net needed

In the fallout from the initial launch of the European Super League, the British government sought to safeguard the heritage status of their football clubs

The review looked to establish an independent regulator whose primary duty was to safeguard the sustainability of individual clubs and their importance within communities.

South African football clubs have an equally special place in the hearts of their communities and should be spared the irresponsible whims of bad businesspeople.

Can Moroka Swallows survive drop

Sports Brief recently asked if Moroka Swallows could survive relegation after releasing half of their squad.

Financial problems have seen the club in trouble on and off the pitch and will now face rebuilding their season.

The Dube Birds announced the dismissal of 22 players in mid-January and have seen more players leave since.

Jarryd Westerdale photo
Jarryd Westerdale
Jarryd Westerdale (based in Johannesburg) joined Sports Brief after four years in the community journalism sphere. He is a two-time Alet Roux Award winner and was a finalist in multiple categories at the Forum of Community Journalism Excellence Awards.