Soccer club in the dark

Goodwood United Football Club's Keith Daniels, Neville Solomons and Graeme Trussell.
Goodwood United Football Club is trying to keep children off the streets and away from drugs by developing in them a love for soccer. 

However, members are playing in the dark because their landlord, the City of Cape Town, has disconnected their electricity. 

For the past two years the volunteer-run club has struggled to pay R35 000 electricity arrears. They are not the only ones who have electricity debts.

The run-down clubhouse and condemned field in Hamilton Road share a building with Cape Town Tygerberg FA Referees Association. On either side are emerald green pitches of the neighbouring Goodwood Rugby and Northerns-Goodwood Cricket clubs. 

Neville Solomons, chairman of Goodwood United, claims the rugby club owes R2 million but has not had its services cut. The cricket club, which owed over R77 000, also didn’t have its electricity cut. 

He says there is a bar but it does not nearly cover all running costs of the club.

The excess overdue amounts are the result of a daily R56 electricity levy per day which amounts to about R1 700 a month.

Mr Solomons contends that soccer clubs in poorer areas do not pay for electricity and water. 

He says chairman of Sub-council 4, Chris Jordaan, submitted a question to the mayor asking why sports clubs in his ward have to pay for electricity and grey water. 

When Northern News asked if he had received a response, he forwarded our email to the City’s media office.

Mayco member for community services and health, Zahid Badroodien, says all users of any City resources are classified and billed according to the City’s tariff policies.

John Ross, chairman of the Referees’ Association, says they moved into the building in 2000, looked after the place and paid for electricity. The trouble began in 2017 when the City forced the referee association to share the building with the football club, he says.

Goodwood Rugby chairman Paul Reynecke, who is also the chairman of all sporting codes at Goodwood grounds, says their electricity had been cut off but they had since paid the outstanding account, the reconnection fee and the monthly amounts. 

Mr Reynecke would not say what the amount was. He would also not say over how long a period he paid it off he would not say.the outstanding amount. 

Mr Solomons says the grounds between Milton and Smart roads are open all the time. Since 2018 they experienced a number of break-ins, during which soccer kits, urns, fridge motors from fridges, wiring, a microwave, an industrial chip fryer and other metal items had been stolen. Toilets, basins and showers had also been vandalised. 

Neither the club nor the City has insurance for anything on the property. 

Dr Badroodien says City insurance is limited to specific conditions, specifically to relating to the structure of the building. 

However, claims submitted to the City’s insurance department are repudiated and the cost of repairs to infrastructure are funded via the line department. The City’s insurance does not cover club-owned property and, or resources, says Dr Badroodien.

Mr Solomons says they have only recently completed fitting burglar bars, rewiring and painting but there is much more that needs to be done. 

“One day councillor Cecile Janse van Rensburg visited. It was raining, inside was a mess (and) she was shocked to see children changing in the main area,” says Mr Solomons. 

The two changing rooms are filled with rubbish bins and rubble and, he says, night security guards employed by the City presently use the changing rooms.

Dr Badroodien says the City is unaware of any personal expenses covered by the soccer club with reference to fixing the building and installing security.

The City provides two night security guards, from 6pm to 6am, seven days a week. The guards are responsible for the whole Goodwood Sport Complex facility, including common areas. Mr Badroodien adds that since March 2018, the City has regularly undertaken repair work. 

Mr Solomons says they asked the City to install electricity prepaid meters. This has been done. Now the club is asking for the electricity to be turned on so the meters can be tested. 

“We’ve asked three times but to date this has not been done. Meanwhile, senior soccer players are training with no lights,” he says.

Mr Badroodien says two prepaid meters have been installed and almost all of the work has been completed. 

However, the prepaid meters cannot be commissioned due to the outstanding electrical bill. In order to reinstate electricity supply , the current account holder needs to settle the outstanding account and, or make a pay off settlement agreement with the City.

Dr Badroodien says the City’s Recreation and Parks department is in the process of drawing up lease agreements that will stipulate the conditions, roles and responsibilities of each lessee. Meanwhile the football club will continue to play in the dark.