PSL: The oldest clubs in South Africa’s top flight

The Premier Soccer League (PSL) is relatively new, but some of the clubs currently in it are way older than the league itself.

Back in 1996, the National Soccer League (NSL) made way for the PSL which, in its inaugural season, was won by Manning Rangers – a now-defunct club from Durban, formed in 1928.

Since then, six more clubs have enjoyed top honours in the league – five of them still in the top tier of South African soccer.

Which is the oldest PSL club?

Following the demise of Bidvest Wits – founded in 1921 – we are counting down (or up) from the youngest to the oldest PSL clubs currently in the top flight.

Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila 

Founded: 2017

Club chairman: Masala Malaudzi

The man who once owned Tshakhuma Zebra Forces now owns what was the oldest franchise in South African football – that of Bidvest Wits.

The Limpopo businessman, a former footballer himself, bought the franchise, their league status as well as their club’s entire squad, and his TTM, as his club is known will compete in the top flight just three years after acquiring the Milano United franchise.

Cape Town City

john comitis
Cape Town City FC chairman John Cimitis being interviewed. Photo:Phando Jikelo/African News Agency/ANA

Founded: 2016

Club chairman: John Comitis, Michel Comitis

In human terms, Cape Town City are still toddlers in the PSL but have already bagged two trophies since the club was founded in 2016.

An earlier incarnation of the club – complete with similar colours – existed in the 1960s, and was resurrected when father and son duo, John and Michel Comitis bought Mpumalanga Black Aces, jumping straight into the top flight on their first season, where they finished an impressive third.

Stellenbosch

Iqraam Rayners of Stellenbosch FC is carried off the pitch on the shoulders of fans after helping Stellenbosch to win the League and Promotion after the National First Division 2018/19 game between Stellenbosch FC and Maccabi FC at Idas Valley Stadium in Stellenbosch on 5 May 2019 © Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

Founded: 2016

Cape Town City was not the only club from the Western Cape springing up from nowhere in 2016, as the sale of first-division outfit Vasco da Gama to Remgro – owned by the controversial Johann Rupert – was approved by the PSL shortly before the 2016/17 season.

Stellenbosch earned their path from the second tier of SA soccer the legitimate way, securing promotion to the top flight, where they finished a respectable tenth in their debut season.

TS Galaxy

TS Galaxy
Tim Sukazi, Chairman of TS Galaxy celebrates with players during the 2019 Nedbank Cup match between Kaizer Chiefs and TS Galaxy at the Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban on the 18 May 2019 ©Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Founded: 2015

Club chairman: Tim Sukazi

TS Galaxy rose to the top flight in an unconventional manner, purchasing the league status of Highlands Park shortly before the 2020/21 was due to commence.

During their time in the first division, the Rockets did the unthinkable, beating Kaizer Chiefs in the Nedbank Cup final to become the first club from the lower leagues to win the prestigious trophy.

Chippa United

Football - 2019 Nedbank Cup - Last 16 - Chippa United v Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila - Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium - Port Elizabeth
Chippa United players celebrate a goal.

Founded: 2010

Club chairman: Siviwe “Chippa” Mpengesi

Chippa United was formed when businessman Siviwe “Chippa” Mpengesi purchased Mbekweni Cosmos from Paarl, and the club began life in the Mother City, gaining promotion from the third tier to the first division in its second year of existence.

The Chilli Boys spent just one season in the second tier before being promoted to the PSL in 2012.

In 2014 the club relocated to Port Elizabeth, where it currently operates with Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium as its home ground.

Baroka FC

POLOKWANE, SOUTH AFRICA – NOVEMBER 25: Matome Mabeba of Baroka FC celebrate after scoring a goal during the Telkom Knockout, Semi Final match between Baroka FC and Bidvest Wits at Peter Mokaba Stadium on November 25, 2018 in Polokwane, South Africa. (Photo by Philip Maeta/Gallo Images)

Founded: 2007

Club chairman: Khurishi Mphahlele

Unlike City, Baroka have had to climb up to the big time the conventional way, and it’s been a remarkable rise, considering that the club was only formed in 2007.

Supersport United

Grant Kekana of Supersport United (r) celebrates goal with teammate Aubrey Modiba during the Absa Premiership 2018/19 match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Supersport United at the Loftus Versveld Stadium, Pretoria on the 17 April 2019 ©Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Founded: 1994

Chairman: Khulu Sibiya

Supersport United was formed when the broadcast giant of the same name bought Pretoria City in 1994.

The club has gone on to become one of the most successful outfits locally, winning three league titles. Only the traditional “big three” of Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns have won more.

Black Leopards

black leopards nedbank cup
Mwape Musonda of Black Leopards celebrates goal with teammates during the 2019 Nedbank Cup match between Black Leopards and Orlando Pirates at Thohoyandou Stadium, Venda on 26 January 2019 ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Founded: 1983

Chairman: David Thidiela

Black Leopards first made an entry into the top flight in the 2001/2002 season, but the club had been around since the early 1980s.

Maritzburg United

PIETERMARITZBURG, SOUTH AFRICA – DECEMBER 12: Yannick Zakri of Maritzburg Utd on the ball during the Absa Premiership match between Maritzburg United and Black Leopards at Harry Gwala Stadium on December 12, 2018 in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images)

Founded: 1979

Club chairman: Farouk Kadodia

Maritzburg United have been around since 1979, only gaining promotion into the top flight in 2005.

Mamelodi Sundowns

emiliano tade
Emiliano Tade of Mamelodi Sundowns during the 2019 TOTAL CAF Champions League match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Asec Mimosas at the Loftus Versveld Stadium, Pretoria on the 01 February 2019 ©Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Founded: 1970

Club chairman: Patrice Motsepe

In terms of league titles in the PSL era, Mamelodi Sundowns are the most successful clubs in the land with no less than eight, and are a fair shot away from a record ninth.

The club was formed in 1970 and has gone on to attain unprecedented success, and is one of only two South African outfits to earn a star on its crest via winning the Caf Champions League.

Kaizer Chiefs

kaizer chiefs ernst middendorp
Kaizer Chiefs chairman Kaizer Motaung (left) welcomes new coach Ernst Middendorp (middle), alongside football manager Bobby Motaung (right). Photo: Kaizer Chiefs / Twitter.

Founded: 1970

Club chairman: Kaizer Motaung

When legendary Orlando Pirates striker Kaizer Motaung returned from a stint in the United States – where he represented a club by the name of Atlanta Chiefs – he would change the face of South African soccer forever.

On 7 January 1970, Kaizer Chiefs was formed and would go on to form a fierce rivalry with “Chincha Guluva’s” old club – also going on to become the country’s most successful club with 53* major trophies.

Bloemfontein Celtic

Bloemfontein Celtic Port Elizabeth
General view of fans during the 2016 Premier Soccer League match between Chippa United and Bloemfontein Celtic held at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth, South Africa on the 25th October 2016

Photo by: Richard Huggard / Real Time Images

Founded: 1969

Club chairman: Max Tshabalala

Formed in 1969, Bloemfontein Celtic is one of the older clubs currently operating in the PSL.

Phunya Sele Sele was founded by Norman Mathobisa and Victor Mahatane, and has had several owners in its 50 years, including Dr Petrus Molemela and ex-player Jimmy Augousti.

Moroka Swallows

The fourth oldest club in the PSL is Moroka Swallows, who are back in the top flight after five years out in the wilderness.

The Dube Birds bought their way back into the first division after a drastic slide into the third tier of South African football via back-to-back relegation.

They climbed back up into the big time the legitimate way, however, outplaying Ajax Cape Town in the final two matches of the season to gain promotion on the final day.

Lamontville Golden Arrows

Arrows Jooste PSL
Wayde Jooste of Golden Arrows celebrates goal with team mates during the Premiership match between Baroka FC and Golden Arrows at New Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane, South Africa. Photo: Philip Maeta/Gallo Images

Founded: 1943

Club chairman: Mato Madlala

Abafana Besthende may have one top flight trophy to show for their troubles, but the club sure has been around.

Golden Arrows’ finest moment came in 2009 when they routed Ajax Cape Town in the 2009 MTN 8 final, winning 6-0 to claim their only piece of silverware to date.

Orlando Pirates

orlando pirates vs fc platinum
Orlando Pirates Fans during the CAF Champions League match between Orlando Pirates and Esperance 02 February 2019 at Orlando Stadium Pic Sydney Mahlangu/ BackpagePix

Founded: 1937

Club chairman: Dr Irvin Khoza

Formed in 1937 as the Orlando Boys Club, “Ezimnyama Ngenkani” came to be known as Pirates later.

The club is among the most successful in the country, with a vast list of honours, including the 1995 African Champions League title.

To date, the Buccaneers have won four* PSL titles, and are in pole position to add to that number at the end of the 2018/19 season.

AmaZulu

Bonginkosi Ntuli of AmaZulu FC celebrates his goal with Phumlani Gumede of AmaZulu FC during the Absa Premiership 2018/19 game between AmaZulu FC and Golden Arrows at King Zwelithini Stadium, Durban on 22 December 2018 ©Gerhard Duraan/BackpagePix

Founded: 1932

Club chairman: Patrick Sokhela

After Wits’ demise, AmaZulu are now the oldest club in the PSL still in existence, and have one league title – which came in 1972 – to boast about.

The club has gone through a lot of rebounding over the years, and have sported names such as Zulu Royal Conquerers and Zulu Royals.

*The figure is correct as of 9 October 2020

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