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Kaizer Chiefs' move to Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane - A club in decline?

23:59 GMT+3 17/12/2022
Orlando Pirates Kaizer Chiefs Black Label Cup
Amakhosi have signed a three-year agreement with the municipality and have confirmed fixtures vs Royal AM, Golden Arrows and Swallows.

Kaizer Chiefs' struggle to attract numbers to the FNB Stadium in recent years has been highlighted by their move to play some home matches at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane.

It's well known that Chiefs attract excellent support wherever they play around the country and they remain South Africa's most loved team.

It is however perhaps the novelty factor which brings large numbers of Chiefs faithful to the stadiums when they play in cities such as Durban, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Bloemfontein, in fact pretty much anywhere in SA.

It is however telling that when it comes to home support - the hardcore faithful in and around the Johannesburg/ Soweto/ Gauteng region, fan turn-out has been dwindling over the past five or so years.

It's only when Chiefs play Pirates and to a lesser extent Mamelodi Sundowns, that the FNB Stadium reaches anywhere near capacity.

When it comes to a lot of the other PSL opponents, it's not been uncommon in recent seasons to see only a couple of thousand at home games, making for a gloomy, uninspired atmosphere as fans are seen speckled sparsely among a predominately orange-seated background.

In the midst of a long trophy drought and with Chiefs largely unable to parade the kind of star players which they did in years gone by, much of the sparkle and gold dust seems to have come off the club, at least as far as their local JHB fans are concerned.

And not only have Chiefs fans not turned up in their numbers consistently, but they've also been quick to vent their anger - be that with players, coaches or the club's administration and owners.

With a league title unlikely, it's not surprising that the Soweto derbies with Pirates are as a big as ever, but that is the exception to the rule in terms of crowd turnout.

The financial implications of playing in Polokwane would likely have been one of the reasons Chiefs have opted to play in Limpopo province.

However, there might well be positive spin-offs for the team as well - playing at a smaller venue (45 000 capacity), there will be a much lower percentage of empty seats compared to what often is the case at the 95 000 capacity FNB Stadium.

It might not make a massive difference, but at a time when Amakhosi are showing signs of improvement though struggling to fire on all cylinders, every little advantage could help.

It could also provide a push for the club to move it's home games to a more compact venue on a full-time basis. Or even to have their own stadium, perhaps like the 37 000-capacity Orlando Stadium, Pirates' home ground.