Judgment has been handed in the much-anticipated GladAfrica Championship promotion case involving Sekhukhune United, Polokwane City and Royal AM, at the Johannesburg High Court on Saturday. Judge Roland Sutherland upheld an earlier ruling by the SAFA Arbitration process which had awarded three points to the Limpopo side, which now puts United at the summit of the GladAfrica Championship making them the winners of the competition with a straight promotion to the DSTV Premiership.
“The counterclaim to review the arbitration award given by Epstein SC on 19 May 2021 is dismissed,” reads in part the High Court order.
A week before the final round of matches of the first division, the PSL promotion contest was thrown into a battle in the boardroom when the SAFA Arbitration process awarded Sekhukhune United three points and three goals for their contentious match against Polokwane City in January. Following that match, in which they lost 1-0, Ba Bina Noko, as Sekhukhune United are affectionately known, lodged a complaint with the PSL DC, complaining that City had failed to include five Under-23 players on their team sheet, as per the PSL rules.
While the PSL DC found Polokwane City guilty and deducted the three points they had irregularly secured against Sekhukhune, they decided not to award those point to the opposing team, as it had done so in similar previous cases.
This prompted Ba Bina Noko to lodge an appeal against the PSL DC’s decision, the results of which was a decision by arbitration to award the three points and three goals to United, a few days before the final round of matches which would decide which team between Royal AM and United would gain straight promotion to the DSTV Premiership.
However, the PSL Executive Committee, subsequently, challenged the decision by arbitration, refusing to award the points and the goals to Sekhukhune United. The decision was to the benefit of Royal AM who went into their final match against Cape Town All-Stars at the top of the first division log. They went on to win their final match after being awarded a much-talked-about soft penalty in the final stage of their decisive match even though the PSL didn’t hand the trophy and medal citing that they had been served with court papers.
While this now puts Sekhukhune United at the top of the GladAfrica Championship, it is expected that Royal AM will appeal the latest judgment which could delay the start of the PSL Promotion Playoffs and the 2021/2022 PSL season.