Konco lifts the lid on his hasty exit from Celtic: 'The process led to only me being retrenched'
Ex-Bloemfontein Celtic CEO Khumbulani Konco has described a process that saw him let go on Tuesday‚ where he said letters of potential retrenchment were given to eight staff members pending consultation‚ and then only he was axed.
Konco‚ speaking in a digital press conference with the SA Football Journalists’ Association on Wednesday‚ admitted that coming so soon after a two-week suspension that followed a heated argument with chairman Max Tshabalala‚ he could only conclude the retrenchment process was a cover to remove just him.
A player for Celtic for three seasons and administrator for 17 years‚ Konco described the circumstances of his February 16 suspension‚ March 2 return to work‚ and Tuesday’s retrenchment.
He read a prepared statement‚ saying: “The club started the process of retrenchments on Monday‚ March 8.
“We received letters of retrenchment — it was apparently eight staff members. The letter stated that on Thursday March 11 the consultation process would begin‚ and on March 15 retrenchment would take place.
“That process led to only me being retrenched. That’s why we are gathered here today so that we can handle the aftermath smoothly and successfully.
“You will also note that on February 16 I had a verbal miscommunication with the chairman which is common knowledge by now‚ and which is common in our industry‚ especially football‚ that led to him suspending me for about two weeks.
“On February 26 I received a letter that I should return to the office on March 2‚ which I did.
“I had my meeting with the chairman on March 3‚ where I believed we said what was needed to be said with regards to the suspension‚ and we agreed that it was a business disagreement. We both apologised. On my side‚ in my heart it was good‚ genuine and sincere.
“However‚ this changed when I was given a retrenchment letter after these processes.”
Konco was asked to clarify if he felt the retrenchment process involving the other staff members was done for financial reasons‚ or a cover for only him being retrenched.
“What came out in the [retrenchment process] meeting was that the process was due to financial challenges faced by the club‚ which have been well documented. But when you look at the process‚ and the end result‚ and what we know with regards to the process of retrenchment‚ one can feel that the axe was looking at someone‚ and only that person‚” Konco said.
“The reason I state that is because in the consultation process some suggestions were given out and none were implemented.”
Konco admitted that for a CEO to be cut in a retrenchment process was “highly unusual indeed”.
Tshabalala‚ reached for a response‚ denied that Konco was the only Celtic staff member retrenched‚ saying two others had been in the current round of retrenchments.
“What’s happened is that Khumbulani is the CEO — why didn’t he explain the [financial] difficulties that we are undergoing‚ because he knows. And why is it a cover-up then?” Tshabalala queried.
“He knows that Celtic can’t pay the salaries‚ we are struggling‚ and that my other company must pay over.
“The retrenchment‚ the first phase of that was in January last year‚ where other people were cut and they never said a word‚ and he was not part of that. Why [speak] now?
“ ... The people we called in to assess the company — the professionals — what they did‚ and they are not football people‚ was they went to everyone who was earning high salaries — like your R100‚000-plus.
“And they even went to the players. But I told them that you can’t cut the players. Because the players earning R100‚000-plus are our senior players and the core of the team — if I lose them I will lose my investment.”
Asked directly if Konco was the only staff member retrenched‚ Tshabalala said: “No. No. Maybe he saw the letter to him. No, it’s not only him.
“The security manager was also retrenched. The health and safety manager was also asked that‚ ‘We can’t afford you any more' ... Because under them there are people doing their jobs‚ so it’s easy for us to continue.”
Asked to clarify if that meant three people were retrenched‚ Tshabalala responded: “Yes‚ three people.”
Called back to be asked if he could name the health and safety manager and security manager retrenched‚ Tshabalala said: “No man‚ no. Why must I do that? They are not part of this.”
Konco said so long as the agreements of his retrenchment package are met he will not consider legal recourse.