Royal AM, having had issues with Maritzburg United in the past, have kicked the Team of Choice completely out at Harry Gwala Stadium.
This after Maritzburg, who were relegated to the Motsepe Foundation Championship last term, saw their sponsorship with Msunduzi municipality terminated because of their demise which was part of the conditions in the contract.
Instead, the municipality has signed a three-year deal with Royal AM of R27 million as the latter is in the top flight, with Msunduzi municipality saying they couldn’t let this opportunity pass them since Shauwn Mkhize’s club is eight kilometres away from the City of Choice.
On top of that, Harry Gwala Stadium was removed from all Maritzburg colours on the walls and Royal AM’s are now painted, which was done by the municipality.
However, the municipality was open to seeing Maritzburg play their home games at Harry Gwala Stadium, provided that it was not clashing with Royal AM’s fixtures.
But Maritzburg’s first game in the Motsepe Foundation Championship today (on Friday) was initially pencilled to be played at the Pietermaritzburg venue and was not clashing with Royal AM’s on Sunday against TS Galaxy.
But they have been kicked at Harry Gwala Stadium instead with a source saying Maritzburg spoke to the Ethekwini municipality which owns stadiums in Durban for an alternative.
Maritzburg initially wanted to play at Chatsworth Stadium, Royal AM’s previous home venue last season, but then changed to play their game at King Zwelithini Stadium, starting on Friday against newbies side Milford FC (19:30).
The beef between Royal AM and Maritzburg dates back to 2016 and 2017 when the former was known as Royal Eagles in the Motsepe Foundation Championship.
“When I worked at Royal AM (then Eagles) in the NFD and Maritzburg in PSL, they gave them hassles when they were sharing the stadium,” said the source.
“Eagles were once fined because United locked the changing rooms after their training session in the morning, Royal Eagles were playing in the afternoon so when we arrived during the day, change rooms were locked and they came back at like 2pm to open them, imagine all referees and teams standing outside because it’s locked?
“The match commissioner wrote a report and they were fined. I think this is payback time.”
Royal AM, in the letter that has been leaked and flying on social media and signed by their general manager Richard Makhoba, has asked also Maritzburg to leave the entire premises at Harry Gwala Stadium as they were training outside the venue because Royal AM will use that pitch for their ladies team and also for the DStv Diski Challenge.
“We request your office (that of Msunduzi municipality) to please remove Maritzburg United with immediate effect from the training field as our MDC and ladies’ team will soon need a place to train, ” the letter said in part.