Bafana name owner 'open to offers'
Johannesburg - The South African national football team might not need a name change after all, with the company that holds the trading rights to Bafana Bafana now showing intentions of selling them.
After years of protracted talks, Wayne Smidt, owner of Stanton Woodrush, the company that holds 100% of Bafana's trademark rights, on Monday said he was willing to sit down and negotiate handing over the name rights to the SA Football Association (Safa).
The Bafana name's commercial rights have been a focal point over the last year, drawing government interest with parliamentary sports portfolio chairperson Butana Khompela and Minister of Sports Fikile Mbalula going as far as advising Safa to find a new name for the team - amid attempts at halting the financial revenue that goes to Stanton Woodrush instead of the association coffers on sales of Bafana merchandise.
Smidt made millions in royalties from the sale of Bafana Bafana clothing in 2009 and 2010, during South Africa's hosting of the Confederations Cup and World Cup respectively.
Wayne's father ran Stanton Woodrush when they registered the name in 1993, at a time when the association's then leadership apparently overlooked trademarking the name because they found it derogatory to refer to a team of men as "boys".
Safa first took Stanton Woodrush to court in 1997 in the hope of removing the company as owners of the name, losing the case and then again in 2003.
"This is the first time I'm coming out with this matter, and we are willing to negotiate," said Smidt.
"We haven't communicated with Safa about the matter, but we are willing to listen to an offer from them."
This turned out to be welcome news for Safa president Kirsten Nematendani who, along with his deputy Danny Jordaan and Safa national executive member Alpha Mchunu, have been placed in charge of finding a new commercial nickname for the side.
With the association celebrating its 20th anniversary since being readmitted to international football back in 1991, preserving the team's history could prove to be a more viable process than having to start a brand from scratch.
"First we will need to assess the possibilities of getting the rights," said Nematendani.
"It would make sense if there was an understanding in this situation because the matter has long been (in) discussion."
A Sunday newspaper speculated on a price in the region of R33m payable to Smidt if he were to sell to Safa.
Smidt though was not willing to name his price or give details as to how much he had generated through Bafana branded clothing.
"I don't know about the figure that was speculated in the paper, but I don't want to say anything on it just yet. We will have to wait and see."