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South African socialite buys top club after on-pitch, court failures

Johannesburg (AFP) – After failing to win promotion on the pitch or in the courtroom, South African socialite Shauwn Mkhize has fulfilled her dream of owning a top-flight football club by buying one.

The Premier Soccer League (PSL) announced on Tuesday that second-division club owner Mkhize had bought Bloemfontein Celtic and would move the club from the central city to the Indian Ocean port of Durban.

Although Celtic boast a large, passionate support base, they have battled financially for years and owner Max Tshabalala reportedly sold the club for 50 million rand ($3.37 million/2.87 million euros).

The deal was struck just three days before the 2021-2022 league season kicks off with Celtic, who will be renamed Royal AM, travelling to Soweto for their first fixture, against Swallows on Sunday.

Individuals are not allowed to own more than one club so Mkhize, whose activities include hosting a TV reality show, has sold the Royal AM second-division franchise.

Royal AM were last season pipped by Sekhukhune United for automatic promotion to the Premiership, the richest league in Africa with a 15 million rand first prize.

But the runners-up objected to Sekhukhune being awarded three points from a mid-season match they lost because the victors, Polokwane City, fielded an illegal player.

Royal AM made several unsuccessful legal attempts to overturn the promotion of Sekhukhune, leaving Mkhize to splash the cash and join the elite league.

She becomes the second female owner of a Premiership club this season after Mato Madlala, who combines running Durban-based Golden Arrows with being acting chief executive of the PSL.

Celtic fold having competed in Africa for the first time last season, defeating Maniema Union from the Democratic Republic of Congo in the CAF Confederation Cup before losing to Rivers United of Nigeria.

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