Cape Town City: Standing The Test Of Time

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  • Post published:September 17, 2023

Cape Town City have proven their worth and already established themselves as one of the best teams in the country – despite being only seven years young, writes Dylan Appolis.

The club was initially founded back in 1962, but reformed in 2016 when businessman John Comitis bought the Premier Soccer League status of the defunct Mpumalanga Black Aces.

Upon buying Black Aces’ status Comitis, who was the co-founder of Ajax Cape Town back in 1996 before selling his shares in the club in 2013, opted to move the club from Nelspruit to Cape Town.

Comitis relocated the franchise to Cape Town with the thought of reviving football in the mother City, the fans being their main priority while attempting to bring the glory days back to football in the Cape.

It was announced the historic ground that is Hartleyvale Stadium would be their training facility and Cape Town Stadium their home ground, with Eric Tinkler taking over the helm from former Black Aces coach Mushin Ertugral.

“The club is pure football project,” commercial director Michel Comitis told Hiddenfootball.

“We might be a new team, but some of the people here have decades worth of SA football passion and experience.

“A big motivation behind forming the club was to right the wrongs of the past, and to build something that truly represents Cape Town and the love of the game here.”

City made an instant impact and became a force to be reckoned with in their debut season with Tinkler guiding them to a third place in the league and qualifying for the African Confederation Cup, as well as defeating SuperSport United 2–1 in the final to clinch the Telkom Knockout Cup.

In the four seasons that followed, City were unable to better the feat of their debut, placing fifth in 2017/18, fourth in 2018/19, and sixth place in 2019/20, but they had their worst finish during the 2020/21 season, when they placed seventh on the league table.

City had to wait three years to claim their next piece of silver when Benni McCarthy led the team to the 2018 MTN8 trophy after they defeated SuperSport United 4–1 in a penalty shootout after finishing as runners-up the previous season.

However, City’s best place position in the league came during the 2021/22 season when they placed second in the
league standings and finishing as runners-up in the MTN8 during Jan Olde Riekerink’s reign as coach.

The Citizens were not able to achieve the same feat in the season that followed, even though they were considered title contenders, but they were unable to knock Sundowns off the top and placed fourth last season.

By this time, the Citizens had already established themselves as one of the top teams in the country and never placed outside the top eight, despite the club being only six years old.

The Citizens tried to steer the focus away from the business side and focus more on fan culture after forming a cult following over the years by engaging with the communities, using the club’s roots to unite “Cape Town’s rich footballing history under one team while trying to change the landscape of football in the country”.

“What we’re doing is forward thinking by South African standards, but is also tapping into the past, resembling what football was like in previous generations around the world,” Comitis said.

“The growth of football here seems to have skipped the emotional and social part, and jumped straight to the commercial side of things, copying the EPL without laying the foundations.

“The league is successful in a business sense, but maybe we’ve left fan culture, and the real meaning, behind.

“I’d say that it’s a commercial success, but a cultural failure, and that’s what CTCFC are trying to change.

“By actually engaging with our community, being representative and valuing the important things, we’re moving the goal posts and changing the landscape of football in SA.”

Despite their success in their seven years of existence, City still have a number of challenges they need to overcome in their quest to revive football in Cape Town and South Africa as a whole.

‘”Here, we’re just getting started and it’s always changing, so it’s no surprise it’s taking time, “Comitis concluded.

“Yes, results are important, and we will continue to pursue success on the field. But over the next few years, it’s about creating something accessible for the Cape Town Football community.

“In a country where football franchises are swapped and sold yearly, we’re looking to build something that can’t be bought, and stands the test of time.”

City have definitely made an impact in South African football with the way they present the beautiful game with their innovative social media and marketing strategy to connect the club and players to the fans, telling their stories and bringing the human factor back into the sport by combining business and football.

“The basic premise from which we started was that South African football needed a superior level of attention to detail in everything, not just the football side,” Comitis told New Frame.

“There is such a great distance in this country between the professional club and the person in the community.

“We wanted to change that. There are so many facets to creating some- thing people can experience and enjoy and feel a part of. We have such a rich football culture and yet we have not managed to package that in a way that does us justice.

“So we entered a marketplace that had failed, especially in terms of connecting with the ordinary fan. It took a while for people to open up and understand what we were trying to do. But I think we are getting there…”