Mhlekazi, Siviwe Chippa Mpengesi! I guess it is safe to say congratulations are in order. I wish I was congratulating you for winning the inaugural DStv Premiership, but here I am, congratulating you for retaining your topflight status through the promotional/relegation play-offs, pending the ongoing, frustrating and embarrassing court case involving Sekhukhune United and Royal AM. I’m congratulating you for winning the three-team mini-league. For that, you’ve just secured yourself another 30 league games in the elite league and, once again, congratulations!
Chairman, you have been – for a number of seasons now – flirting with danger but managed to get away with it thus far. However, Mhlekazi, as it happened with Black Leopards this past season, you might not get away with this murder for too long. Once you start flirting with danger, common sense dictates that you pull out all the stops to make sure that you don’t go through the same experience the following season. Sadly, sanity has failed to prevail in this regard when it comes to your club, Chippa United, and to say that’s disappointing would be an understatement. For far too long now, Leopards and Chippa have turned the relegation zone monotonous. It has become a tough competition between the two teams to determine who will be the season’s laughing stock. Leopards, after flirting with relegation for seasons, have finally got their comeuppance and will be campaigning in the GladAfrica Championship next season after finishing 16th and subsequently getting relegated, automatically.
Interestingly, the last time Leopards got relegated in 2012/13, they were sitting on the same 23 points they accumulated this past season. Another interesting fact, Chippa was 15th on 28 points, one point more than this past season. Another common denominator was the chopping and changing of coaches. Both teams got relegated that season as the Chilli Boys failed to capitalize on their second chance in the promotional/relegation play-offs, finishing second behind Mpumalanga Black Aces, who were the eventual winners and secured their place in the top league. Can you see why a change of mindset, operation and vision needs to take place at the Gqeberha-based club before it is too late? They say God whispers and then He shouts! Chairman, please don’t wait for Him to shout before you can see the signs. He’s whispered enough already, just take heed and get your house in order. You’ve secured yourself another second chance in the big league, but let this be the last time you find yourself in this situation. Don’t you miss a proper off-season like you had in 2015/16 when you finished a comfortable sixth position without any relegation worries towards the end of the season? You recorded 13 wins, six draws and 11 losses, with an impressive 45 points in the bag. That season, only Mamelodi Sundowns and Bidvest Wits, who finished first and second respectively, scored more than your 42 goals. Surely that must have felt great and a feeling you long for.
Here’s to hoping that you, Chairman, and your management team are busy taking stock and making solid plans to ensure that you’ll not be found anywhere near the relegation zone from next season, going forward. Lest you risk reading from the same page as Leopards. You don’t want to be the new Leopards in the league because other teams have beefed up. As mentioned earlier, you have 30 games to play in the topflight, once again, and it is entirely up to you what you do with them. As a proud Eastern Cape boy who always takes pride in seeing the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium and Sisa Dukashe Stadium packed to the rafters with locals enjoying the Beautiful Game, I feel it is only fair to warn you not to repeat the same mistakes made by the Leopards management of sitting on their problems and hoping for miracles instead of making changes. You can’t continue doing the same thing and expecting different results. You’ve managed to get away with murder but, just like Leopards, it will soon catch up with you if you don’t make the necessary changes.
Chippa United is more than just a football club. They are, as their slogan aptly puts it, the pride of the Eastern Cape. As the only DStv Premiership team in the province, to lose this club to relegation would be disastrous for everyone concerned. You’ve managed to swim against the tide, all things considered, and remain the province’s only hope thus far. There are obvious problems but, from what we know, the government and everyone around have played their part to ensure this team is here to stay. Chairman, I hope that you and everyone around you will make sure that Chippa United will, at least, be a Top Eight team next season. You’ve been around long enough to know what to do in order to make that dream a reality. You know the importance of stability and continuity in both the technical team and playing personnel. You also know how happy employees always give their all to their employer. If Chippa are in the relegation zone next season, you can quote me on this, that will be the end of your flirtatious ways with the dreaded axe. You will get your just reward. I know how much you love this team, I know what it means to you to have Chippa in the DStv Premiership and based in your province of birth but, Chairman, God whispers and then He shouts!
Don’t wait until it is too late to sort yourself out. The most wonderful thing about Chippa is lack of opposition when it comes to support base. Every football supporter in the EC supports Chippa, some support your team even against their original teams because they can associate with the Chilli Boys. Don’t let that spark die. My beloved and honourable Chairman, people are no longer finding joy in supporting your team lately. That’s simply because of all the instability taking place, compounded by the team’s regular appearances at the bottom end of the log table. Surely you can also do without sleepless nights, due to relegation anxiety.