Soccer given the boot at Ellis Park




Soccer has temporally been shown the door at Ellis Park due to 2010 World Cup renovations currently taking place at the stadium – but Super 14 rugby fixtures will carry on as scheduled.

This was confirmed on Wednesday by Ellis Park CEO George Stainton, who said there was nothing sinister or untoward about the decision to move Orlando Pirates’ forthcoming Premier League fixtures against Wits Universdity on Saturday night and Mamelodi Sundowns on Wednesday night to the adjoining Johannesburg Stadium.

“It is simply a decision based on the different circumstances surrounding these games and the Super 14 rugby fixtures between the Lions and the Blues on Saturday, February 23 and against the Western Force on Friday, February 29,” added the Ellis Park CEO.

“The Ellis Park pitch is in good condition and suitable for both rugby and soccer,” said Stainton, “but taking into account the size of the crowds who might attend the Pirates’ games and the fact that they are being played at night, it was deemed advisable to switch The Buccaneers games to Johannesburg Stadium.”

Stainton said both stadiums were suitably equipped with generators and Ellis Park had been operating on its own power for much of the time during Escom’s recent crisis – “but when you take into account the influx of large numbers of spectators,” he added “any power failures in the adjoining area could certainly cause complications – particularly while the renovations are taking place.”

Ironically, while the Orlando Pirates web site confirms that the club’s games against Wits and Sundowns have been switched to Johannesburg Stadium, the PSL had made no formal announcment and the League’s own web site was advertising the games being staged at Ellis Park.

And, while it might be considered sacrilege to as much as whisper such a suggestion, it is this type of shortcoming associated with soccer generally here that might have been a factor in the precautionary measures now put into place.

Yet for anyone viewing the short trek of Pirates to Johannesburg Stadium as a racial issue, it should be noted that ownership of Ellis Park is now in the hands of a consortium under Pirates chairman Irvin Khoza – and that might present those who have their suspicions with something to chew on.

Sapa –

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