Ajax relegated as arbiter finds against them in Ndoro case
The relegation battle in South Africa's Absa Premiership has been turned on its head after Ajax Cape Town were found guilty of fielding an ineligible player in Tendai Ndoro and must forfeit points won in games against Platinum Stars, Polokwane City and SuperSport United.
The South African Football Association (SAFA) released the ruling of an arbiter in the matter on Tuesday, just a day before the Promotion/Relegation Play-Offs are due to begin.
Ajax lose seven points from wins over Platinum Stars and SuperSport United, as well as a draw with Polokwane City, with all those matches awarded to their opponents by 3-0 scorelines. They have also been fined an effective R150 000.
That means Stars finish the season on 27 points in 15th place and enter the play-offs, with Ajax automatically relegated as the bottom club on 24 points.
But with the Urban Warriors almost certain to launch court action over the verdict, this may not be the end of the story.
The other outcome of the points shuffle is that SuperSport United (who were at risk of dropping into the play-offs on the final day) move into the top eight at the expense of AmaZulu, and qualify for the lucrative MTN8 next season that carries a first prize of R8-million.
Ajax had remain steadfast in their belief that they can use the striker, seemingly in contravention of FIFA regulations as they were his third team in the 2017-18 season after Orlando Pirates (for who Ndoro played 13 minutes during the opening match of the season) and Saudi club Al-Faisaly.
Ndoro was not paid by Al-Faisaly for some months, with Ajax claiming they were in breach of contract, but they did pay some R2.5-million for his services in the form of a transfer fee to Pirates - owned by Premier Soccer League chairman Irvin Khoza.
Ajax also said they were mandated to play Ndoro by the Premier Soccer League's Dispute Resolution Chamber, which found in their favour.
It was only after this ruling was overturned that they stopped fielding the Zimbabwean.
The repercussions of relegation could be dire for Ajax, who are 51 percent owned by Ajax Amsterdam and run a successful, but expensive, youth academy.
A drop to the National First Division will not be appealing for their major shareholder, or provide the right kind of platform for their budding talent.
Ajax were formed in 1999 after a merger by Seven Stars and Cape Town Spurs, and have been in the top flight ever since.