The ongoing and embarrassing contractual dispute between former Baroka FC captain, Mduduzi Mdantsane, and his former club doesn’t help Bakgaga and the Absa Premiership’s cause at all.
Mdantsane was officially unveiled by Cape Town City FC as their first recruit in the January transfer window period. About a week later, Baroka issued an official statement confirming the release of the 25-year-old midfielder, despite having a two-year option to renew his contract, which was due to run out at the end of the season, among other players. Just when the Citizens were getting excited about the prospect of seeing their new signing paraded in their first game of 2020, ironically, against his former club, Bakgaga pulled the rug right under Mdantsane’s feet by, firstly, distancing themselves from releasing their former captain and, secondly, claiming that the player still belonged to the Ga-Mphahlele-based outfit. Therefore, all the official statements made prior to this are now a subject of discussion.
What baffles me is the fact that Baroka FC confirmed on their official Twitter account, on December 23, that Mdantsane was one of the four players allowed to leave after the termination of their contracts, which were approaching their expiry date. Baroka’s sudden U-turn is the reason the player was not registered by the Absa Premiership which, ultimately, resulted in an urgent Dispute Resolution Chamber sitting to clear up the confusion regarding the player’s future. Baroka’s stance implies that the player has now signed two contracts, which is completely against the Laws of the Game and therefore punishable. The DC sitting was expected to take place yesterday (Tuesday) and, as things stand, it looks like a mere formality unless, of course, Baroka have something up their sleeves that we don’t know yet. This better be resolved sooner than later as it doesn’t benefit anyone. Mdantsane is missing out on playing for his new club, as City will have played two games without him after hosting AmaZulu on Wednesday night. As a new signing, he would definitely have loved to get the feel of his new home and his teammates.
Judging from the outside, it would appear as if Baroka, after failing to secure the services of their influential captain, are looking to cash in on his move. Why is that? First of all, if they had succeeded in their negotiations to exercise their two-year option on the player’s contract, Mdantsane wouldn’t come cheap for any interested team. Kaizer Chiefs was one of the teams linked with the player and the two-year option could have turned the Naturena-based club away. City were not prepared to sit around and wait until the matter had been resolved. They moved swiftly for their target and got him down to Cape Town in no time. That Mdantsane was stripped of the captain’s armband always hinted at a sour relationship between the player and the club, as coach Wedson Nyirenda, who has also left the club, confirmed in his interview with Soccer Laduma, edition 1150, that it was the management’s decision to take the armband away from Mdantsane. When pressed on whether it was his decision to change the team’s captain, Nyirenda said, “No, it wasn’t mine. The decision was taken by the club, not me, and we all accepted it.” Quiet an interesting answer from the club’s head coach and when you look back at what has happened since then, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to put two and two together and get a four.
What seems to have happened here is that the player and the club failed to reach an agreement on the two-year extension, with Mdantsane, rightfully so, demanding a much-improved package before signing on the dotted line. Seeing that they couldn’t do anything to keep the player on-board, the club then decided to terminate his contract six months before its expiry. Then, with the interest in the player intensifying, the club backtracked on their decision and pleaded ignorance with the hope to make some money off the player’s move. Surely chairman, Khurishi Mphahlele, would have known about the team’s decision to release Mdantsane as the release letter even bears his signature. He would have known about the failed attempts to keep the player and his unwillingness to settle for whatever was proposed to him. To then claim that they’ve not released the player sounds more like an attempt to turn the club’s supporters against the player. This is a tactic that’s been used by a lot of clubs and, unfortunately, the supporters always fall for it. The clubs continue to misrepresent the players when the negotiations fail and paint them as these greedy, selfish and ungrateful individuals who lack loyalty. They then turn back to the supporters and say, “We did everything we could, the player was just not interested in staying despite everything we’ve done for him. We, nevertheless, wish him well in his future endeavours.”
The players seldom tell their side of the story in fear of retribution. Whatever happened between Baroka and Mdantsane better not end on a bitter note as the two parties have been good to each other, at least, from what we could see. They better stop behaving like a dog chasing its tail!
On a separate note, let me take this opportunity to wish Kaizer Chiefs everything of the best as they celebrate their 50th birthday (January 7). I’m sure even Kaizer Motaung would never have imagined things to turn out the way they have for this magnificent institution that has changed South African football from the day it was born. Happy birthday, Kaizer Chiefs!