Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
THE debate on Barbourfields Stadium’s carrying capacity is likely to be reignited with the official figure for Sunday’s blockbuster Castle lager Premier Soccer League encounter between Highlanders and Dynamos given at 16 872 paying fans.
Highlanders won Sunday’s clash of the fallen giants 1-0, with former Dynamos winger Cleopas Kapupurika, who crossed the great divide at the beginning of the year, grabbing the solitary goal.
Service providers, the local authority, Sports and Recreation Commission, Zifa, PSL, private security and police, among others, smiled all the way to the bank after cashing in on the Highlanders-Dynamos encounter.
“We had 16 872 fans paying their way into the stadium. We thank the fans for coming in numbers and we hope they continue with the trend.
“The number is a big increase considering that last year we had above 13 000 fans paying to watch the Highlanders and Dynamos game at Barbourfields Stadium,” said Donald Ndebele, the Highlanders’ treasurer.
This was despite the stadium being packed to the rafters and some fans being turned away.
Ndebele could not be drawn into revealing the amount the club realised from the match after paying service providers their percentages.
Some will argue that a good number gained free entry, indicating the presence of loopholes at the turnstiles or corrupt dealings by unscrupulous cashiers despite the PSL and clubs trying to plug the leakages.
The crowd that watched Sunday’s game was almost similar to that which witnessed the FC Platinum and Orlando Pirates’ Caf Champions League encounter at the same venue.
A total of 23 164 fans paid to watch the FC Platinum and Orlando Pirates game, with about 2 000 people turned away from the stadium to avoid a stampede.
Highlanders saluted their fans, who came in numbers on Sunday.
“Thank you very much to you all for the undying love and support for Highlanders FC that you have continued to show even when the chips were down. Indeed,#UbuhleBeBossoNgabalandeliBayo You’re the best,” wrote Highlanders on their Twitter page.
Matches involving Highlanders and Dynamos have always been the cash cow for service providers, other clubs and stakeholders who include vendors and transporters.
On Sunday, people came from different parts of the country and some motorists left their vehicles at Mzilikazi High School, while others left them in Mzilikazi along Luveve Road.