It started as a love affair when he launched Ajax Cape Town in 1999 with Rob Moore, after Seven Stars and Cape Town Spurs joined forces, but it ended in a nasty divorce when he and Ajax Cape Town parted ways.
Many Cape Town football fans were left seething after John Comitis seemingly got pushed out of the club he started and the love local football fans once associated to Ajax Cape Town seemed to whittle away down memory lane.
Comitis has had no problem sharing his displease with the way Ajax Cape Town has been managed since leaving; in fact in an interview with Kick Off in 2014, Comitis told of his dissatisfaction with the then-new owners.
“I don’t think the management is right for the club,” he came out saying to reporter Zola Doda in the interview, before commenting on why he thought the club were doomed. “I can say that straight-forward. They need to be people’s people and they are not.”
Plenty of football fanatics in the Mother City began talking about how their fan-favourite would be back in no time and it wasn’t long before Comitis indeed returned in the form of FC Cape Town.
Having developed the Cape Town NFD outfit, quite literally overnight, into an attractive investment, Comitis spearheaded the much-hyped Investec DreamPlay League, but now — not even a year in — Investec have pulled their sponsorship and Comitis has moved on.
But even FC Cape Town wasn’t enough to attract Cape Town’s football-mad supporters and Comitis knew that — probably why he latched onto the opportunity to purchase his latest PSL outfit when he did.
So what has Comitis done so well, and why would he possibly attract the old guard who once followed him to Ajax Cape Town? It’s simple — and he alluded to it once already— he’s a people’s person.
Comitis isn’t one to revel in the directors suite shy of his supporters. Of course, he does enjoy his privacy, who doesn’t right? But count the times when Comitis has sat in the stands among his supporters and you’ll be surprised to learn it’s happened pretty often — more often than I’ve seen many (or any?) other club owners or senior management.
When Comitis left Ajax Cape Town, the supporter’s groups began to develop a fairly unhappy consensus among themselves. First, it was the fans’ block, then it was the price of tickets, the accessibility to season tickets, the sale of players, the lack of competitive edge and so the list goes on. Ajax dwindled and an Academy that once boasted International ties with their coaches at Ikamva was now the subject of rumours surrounding an exit plan for Ajax Amsterdam. To this day, the rumours are still rife but one thing Comitis has going for him — he’s on a clean slate.
Cape Town fans will love the idea of Comitis. He’s always been known to be a businessman first, but his football brain and love for the game is incredibly undeniable.
Taking a look at his new franchise, Cape Town City FC, it’s clear what Comitis is setting out to do — win the hearts of Cape Town football.
So can he do it? So far he’s launched a brilliantly slick looking logo alongside what’s described as some as a “European-style” playing kit. I have no doubt he’ll carry that brand image through their club tracksuits, stadium branding and further initiatives.
Ian Taylor’s club name — Cape Town City — was the best of the best back in the ’70s. Couple the achievements of the 70’s with names like Frank Lord and authors like Eric Litchfield and you’ve got your winning combination long before they even step out on the pitch for their first game.
Is that enough to attract a supporter base? Absolutely. One thing we love, as Cape Townians, is to associate ourselves to something cool, funky, hip and trendy. Add in some old-school history —read the book if you dare — and you’ve got the perfect recipe.
There’s no doubt in my mind that Comitis knows this and his social media campaign — allowing the fans to select the kit — is evident of his ambitions and understanding of what we’re so hungry to find in a club based in our City.
The love affair will be rekindled, finally, the fan’s dream has come true, he’s back, but it’s up to Comitis and his close team of confidants to ensure they’re always one step ahead and continue to win over the hearts of Cape Town fans with his ever-so-charming supporter centric manner.
Cape Town loves John Comitis and we’re glad he’s back — it’s only a matter of time before Cape Town City FC take on Ajax Cape Town in what’s likely to be their first of many derby days.