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Royal AM found guilty by PSL disciplinary committee

Andile Mpisane, chairperson of Royal AM, celebrates after their GladAfrica Championship 2020/21 victory over thr University of Pretoria at Tuks Stadium on 16 May 2021. (Photo: Samuel Shivambu / BackpagePix)

GladAfrica Championship side Royal AM have been found guilty on all charges brought against them for boycotting the Premier Soccer League’s promotion/relegation playoffs.

The Premier Soccer League (PSL) disciplinary hearing verdict, which involves KwaZulu-Natal side Royal AM for their four no-shows during the promotion/relegation playoffs, was handed down on Wednesday.

Royal, owned by businesswoman-cum-television personality Shauwn Mkhize, were found guilty by the PSL’s disciplinary committee on all charges brought against them.  

“They were found guilty of all charges. I have made written representations as to the appropriate sanctions and the club has started leading evidence with regard to possible mitigation. We will continue on 21 August,” PSL prosecutor Nande Becker told Daily Maverick.

The hearing in front of the league’s disciplinary committee was twice postponed at the request of Royal’s legal representatives, Mabuza Attorneys – on 17 and 24 July. It finally went ahead on 31 July, with Royal’s representatives and the PSL’s prosecuting team making their cases.  

The GladAfrica Championship side was cited for misconduct by the league after they boycotted the playoffs in June 2021.

Their no-shows effectively handed Chippa United six free points and resulted in the Gqeberha-based team retaining their Premiership status after they also beat and drew with Richards Bay over two legs.

Royal’s shunning of the playoffs stems from a ruling by independent arbitrator Hilton Epstein SC in May 2021.

Epstein handed Sekhukhune United, who were in second with one game remaining, three points as Polokwane City were found guilty of misconduct for not fielding the required number of U-23 players in a match between the two sides in January.

Royal decided against playing in the playoffs as they were under the impression that an earlier interdict against the playoffs proceeding by Judge Justice Nyathi still applied even after Gauteng Deputy Judge President Roland Sutherland dismissed their leave to appeal his decision to uphold the Epstein ruling.

The PSL, on the other hand, said they had been advised to proceed with playoffs at the time as the Nyathi interdict had fallen away once Sutherland dismissed Royal’s appeal against his ruling.

The club then attempted to have PSL acting CEO Mato Madlala charged with contempt of court over the league’s decision to forge ahead with the playoffs. The attempt was unsuccessful

The Epstein ruling saw Royal miss out on automatic promotion to the DStv Premiership by just two points, as they finished the season with 51 points to Sekhukhune’s 53. The KZN club has subsequently sought to overturn the decision in the courts, an endeavour which has so far proved fruitless.

The club though has not thrown in the towel and through their legal representatives have made it clear their intention to go as far as the Constitutional Court in their fight for automatic promotion.

Royal has also previously warned teams that even when the Premiership has begun, they should tread carefully when playing teams such as Chippa and Sekhukhune, until all legal avenues have been exhausted.

“Suppose you are playing Chippa [United], you need to go there cautiously to say, ‘I’m playing Chippa under protest. I’m playing Sekhukhune under protest’, until this matter is finalised,” Royal official Richard Makhoba was quoted as saying by KickOff.  

The new league season is set to begin on 21 August. DM

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