5 September 2018
By Ngwako Machethe

This article originally appeared in Kasie Focus

Barely three months in his new position as the Managing Director of Stadium Management South Africa (SMSA), Bertie Grobbelaar’s appointment aligns SMSA to focus on its strategic objectives for the next five years, growing and developing their portfolio to global status. Our editor Ngwako Machethe and photographer, Lucky Zitha, spent some time with the man tasked with this challenging but fulfilling job at his offices at the iconic FNB Stadium in the presence of Mama Joy, a Stadium Management ambassador and Super Fan…

Bertie left behind his position at Van Velden-Duffey attorney’s earlier this year, the place he worked at for 25 years and SMSA hopes that his contribution and experience will be invaluable in their quest to become the biggest international sporting group in Africa. Bertie’s career as a sports lawyer saw him focus on representation of amateur and professional players, coaches and sport officials and worked with many sporting codes and is well known and respected in the sport industry. “One of the most proud moments is when I and Nicole Roux went to New Zealand and assisted companies to set up professional structures as well as Portugal… I jumped up to the opportunity to join SMSA because the business grew rapidly and has more potential for growth” he said. This will give Dr Jacques Grobbelaar (CEO) more time to focus on compliance, strategic and overall financial management and – audit business, stakeholder relationships as well as commercial – and business development.

While the MD will specifically see to the day to day running of the business in terms of event planning and manage­ment, logistical management and -cost centre manage­ment, marketing, event com­mercialization, human resourc­es, and legal.

Bertie has recently studied a thesis from the UK on crowd behaviour, where they are trying to move away from enforcing control because it creates tension and antagonism among the fans. “We want the Super fans to get more involved on the events days whereby there will be a peaceful and enjoyable atmosphere where the crowd can regulate the crowd. Let the fans not support any criminal activities around the stadium, by supporting illegal tickets sales around the stadium is criminal. Fake tickets are becoming a huge problem with people selling outside the venues from the boot of their cars but we have a plan for them”, he added. There will be demarcated waiting areas for people still waiting for friends to bring tickets and those still finishing their drinks. Those areas will be handled by the super fans assisted by a team that we are currently assembling – these are the people that the fans easily relate with. We are engaging the teams on this plan.

Mama Joy joins in the conversation and brags about how the Stadium Management SA has encouraged her to join the social media platforms where she has more followers than “any sports fan in the country. Her smile beams when she talks about how through these platforms she has to teach fellow supporters about times and behaviour in the stadium. “One of the main problems that we need to improve on as supporters of the beautiful game is being wary of kick-off times, people coming 30 minutes before the games start always causes a lot of commotion as they still have to go through the security and ticket validations” and believes that the seating arrangement, the separation of supporters according to their team is not good, it encourages enormity. Mr Bertie believes that more PR work than policing is the way forward when dealing with the fans. We are constantly engaging the stake holders when it comes to our events, joints efforts between City of Johannesburg (COJ), JMPD, Park and Rides as well as Top 6 taxis organization.

The accolades which the organization keeps getting both locally and internationally would make others relax but not SMSA, “we never going to allow the bar to be lowered … but we want to reach further and create the template that would be used not only in South Africa but the rest of the continent”, he added.

Well with such partnerships that involves the fans, we can only hope for absolute bliss at the football games this season.