Free State Stars’ players were told by club general manager Rantsi Mokoena on Wednesday that the team has been sold and will be relocated to Johannesburg.
This was confirmed to Times Media Digital by a source from within the club‚ who asked not to be named‚ as the worst kept secret in South African football was finally laid bare.
Although the purchase of Ea Lla Koto by an unnamed South African consortium linked to Moroka Swallows must still be ratified by the Premier Soccer League‚ it is expected that Stars in its current form will cease to exits and the Birds will take flight in the Premier League once more.
This website understands that the final confirmation may come as soon as the end of this week.
Stars officials‚ including Mokoena‚ as well as coaches and players‚ have put up a wall of silence and did not respond to numerous calls and messages on Wednesday.
But the deal looks as good as done‚ offering Swallows a route back into the PSL after back-to-back relegations had threatened the very existence of the once proud Soweto club.
The contracts of all players and recently appointed French coach Denis Lavagne will have to be honoured by the new owners‚ unless they can negotiate severance packages or individuals voluntarily walk away from their deal as free agents to find employment elsewhere.
Lavagne could not be reached for comment‚ but former Swallows coach Gordon Igesund‚ who led the side to second in the PSL in the 2011/12 season‚ is a name that is being touted for the ‘new’ Swallows.
His agent‚ Mike Makaab‚ says his client would be interested in the opportunity if it arose‚ but adds he has had no contact whatsoever with anybody over the position.
“Obviously given Gordon’s affinity with the club and the success he has had there in the past‚ taking them from relegation no-hopers to second in the league‚ it would be a position that interest him if it became available‚” Makaab tells Times Media Digital.
“But nobody has contacted me about it and Gordon is also on the short-list for a couple of African national team jobs.”
The situation is similar to that of Mpumalanga Black Aces‚ whose franchise was purchased by a consortium headed by John Comitis and renamed Cape Town City after relocating the Mother City.
Most players were happy to make the move cross country but others were not‚ though presumably the bright lights of Gauteng‚ which is the seat of power in South African football‚ would be more of lure of Stars players.