There are many football teams in South Africa at the moment competing in the Premier Soccer League, the football organization that is responsible for running the country’s two professional divisions, namely the South African Premier Division and the National First Division. These different football teams attract a lot of fans who troop out every matchday to watch their favorite players donning their club jerseys to play on their football pitches. As expected, some of the football teams in South Africa, especially those in the Premier Division, are more successful and richer than the others and command a bigger fan base.
Football, which arrived in South Africa through colonialism in the late nineteenth century, has grown to become one of the most popular sports in the country, alongside rugby and cricket. Today, the country is a football-crazy nation with many die-hard fans of the game going to great lengths to support their teams. Usually, fans of opposing teams are often at loggerheads with each other, making arguments about why their teams are the best. In fact, it has been reported that South African football fans are now among the most colorful and passionate soccer lovers in the world.
Expectedly, football teams in South Africa have taken advantage of the fans’ crazy love for the sport to rake in incredible fortune over the years and through different means. Let’s take a look at some of the richest football teams in South Africa.
The Richest Football Teams In South Africa At The Moment
1. Mamelodi Sundowns F.C.
- Net Worth: $18.9 million
- Nickname: Bafana Ba Style, Masandawana, The Brazilians, Downs, or Ka bo Yellow
- Year Founded: 1970
- Owner: Patrice Motsepe
- No. of Domestic Titles: 26
- No. of International Titles: 2
Mamelodi Sundowns Football Club is currently the richest football team in South Africa with a net worth of about $18.9 million. The club is arguably also one of the biggest clubs in the country, having risen in leaps and bounds since it encountered a major transformation in 2004. Mamelodi Sundowns is based in Mamelodi, a township that is located northeast of Pretoria municipality in Gauteng Province. The professional football club currently plays in the Premier Soccer League, the highest tier of the South African football league system.
Historically, Mamelodi Sundowns was originally formed in the early 1960s by a group of friends. Some years later, in 1970, it became an official football club. After getting affiliated to the Federation Professional Football League in 1973, the club achieved some success and even reached the finals of the Coca-Cola Cup in the same year. However, they were relegated to the second division after the Federation Professional League threw their weight behind the then National Professional Football League. As a result, the club struggled for years to gain promotion to top-flight football.
Finally, the club gained promotion to the NPSL in 1983 but struggled for a while before Zola Mahobe, a business magnate bought the club in 1985 and immediately worked his charm to inspire the club to greatness. Mahobe even went to Soweto to seek the services of Stanley “Screamer” Tshabalala, a top-rated coach to lead the ambitious Sundowns team. Mamelodi Sundowns soon rose to become one of the powerhouses of South African football and won various major trophies in the process.
However, in 1988, Zola Mahobe lost ownership of the club which was repossessed by Standard Bank. The club even went into liquidation before it was saved by football family Angelo and Natasha Tsichlas who formed a company with business mogul, Abe Krok and bought 100% of the club. The new owners of the Mamelodi Sundowns club led the club to become one of the best football teams in South Africa and even emerged winners of the first NSL League Trophy with Angelo Tsichlas as a coach.
After the National Soccer League was replaced by Premier Soccer League for the 1996–97 season, Mamelodi Sundowns grew in strength and won three consecutive titles in a row. They also won other titles, including the Bob Save Super Bowl in 1998 and Rothmans Cup in 1999. They also became only the second South African team to reach the prestigious CAF Champions League in 2001.
The club witnessed another major transformation in 2004 when the current owner, Patrice Motsepe, bought a 51% share in the club and later took total control of the club by buying the remaining shares. The club under its new leadership shot to continental glory by winning the 2016 CAF Champions League and became the 2016 CAF Club of the Year. The club has won the league title a record eleven times. Mamelodi Sundowns have emerged winners of the Nedbank Cup four times. They are a joint record of winners of the National Football League Championships, having won it three times. They rose to global prominence when they became the first South African team to compete in the FIFA Club World Cup. Today, Mamelodi Sundowns is widely considered to be the most successful football club in South Africa.
2. Orlando Pirates F.C.
- Net Worth: $14.7 million
- Nickname: Amabhakabhaka, The Sea Robbers, Bucs, Happy People, Buccaneers,
- Year Founded: 1937
- Owner: Irvin Khoza
- No. of Domestic Titles: 29
- No. of International Titles: 3
The Orlando Pirates F.C. is the second richest football team in South Africa with an estimated net worth of $14.7 million. The professional football club, which plays in the Premier Soccer League, the top-tier system of Football in South Africa, is now based in the Houghton suburb of the city of Johannesburg. The club, which is also one of South Africa’s oldest clubs, now plays its home matches at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto.
The club now known as Orlando Pirates was originally established in 1937 in Orlando East, Soweto by the offspring of migrant workers. At the time, it was called the Orlando Boys Club because enthusiastic boys in Orlando gathered together at every available chance they get to play football in open spaces and in informal groupings. The club soon grew to become more organized and even got its president. The club’s first president, Buthuel Mokgosinyane, is reported to have actually bought the first team kit with his own funds in 1940.
The team then went on to take part in Johannesburg Bantu Association’s Saturday League, winning the Division Two title and gaining promotion to Division One in 1944. Following all their success, one of the key members of the club, Andrew Bassie, suggested that the club should be renamed to ‘Orlando Pirates’, and this was adopted. Over the years, the Orlando Pirates F.C. have gone on to accumulate a record of successes, exciting fans.
The club emerged winners of the National Professional Soccer League titles in 1971, 1973, 1975, and 1976. They also won the National Soccer League title in 1994. Also, since 1996, following the inception of the Premier Soccer League, the club became the first football team to win three major trophies in a single season back to back; they were winners of the domestic league ABSA Premiership, the FA Cup Nedbank Cup as well as the Top 8 Cup MTN 8 during the ABSA Premiership 2010–11 season, then won the domestic league ABSA Premiership, the League Cup Telkom Knockout, and the Top 8 Cup MTN 8 during the ABSA Premiership 2011–12 season.
In addition to all their domestic success, Orlando Pirates F.C. has also found success on the international stage. In fact, in 1995, they became one of only two South African teams to actually win the CAF Champions League. Also, they were the runners-up of the 2015 CAF Confederation Cup. Over the years, the club’s performances and success have become an inspiration for young footballers striving to play football.
It is noteworthy that Orlando Pirates F.C. maintains a very strong rivalry with fellow Soweto football club, Kaizer Chiefs. In fact, whenever they meet to play in the Soweto derby, the match attracts a very large viewership and is often chaotic because of the intense rivalry between fans. It has been reported that the Soweto derby is one of the most fiercely contested derbies in world football.
3. Kaizer Chiefs F.C.
- Net Worth: $11 million
- Nickname: Amakhosi; The Phefeni Boys; Abafana Bok’thula noxolo
- Year Founded: 1970
- Owner: Kaizer Motaung
- No. of Domestic Titles: 55
- No. of International Titles: 2
Kaizer Chiefs F.C. is currently the third richest football team in South Africa with an estimated net worth of $11 million. The club is owned by Kaizer Motaung, a former South African footballer who is now a widely respected businessman in the country. The club is based in Kaizer Chiefs Village in Naturena, a township located South of Johannesburg, and plays in the Premier Soccer League. The Kaizer Chiefs team which is nicknamed AmaKhosi, (meaning “Lords” or “Chiefs” in Zulu, and the Phefeni Glamour Boys), is now the most supported club in the entire country.
Kaizer Chiefs F.C. was founded in 1970 by Kaizer Motaung shortly after he came back from the United States of America where he played as a striker for the Atlanta Chiefs, a professional soccer team based in Atlanta, Georgia. Kaizer, who had played in South Africa in the 1960s before leaving to play in America, decided that he wanted to own his own club and revolutionize South Africa’s football atmosphere by introducing new standards that could completely revamp how soccer is viewed in the country. To get the name for his new football club, Kaizer Motaung combined his name “Kaizer” and his former NASL team, Atlanta Chiefs, to get Kaizer Chiefs.
At first, Kaizer Chiefs experienced lots of setbacks and for some time, were just an average team that could hardly muster enough resources to compete. However, with some resilience, Kaizer Motaung succeeded in bringing together a charming mix of South African soccer veterans and some really talented rookies into the club and soon, the team rose to become a force to be reckoned with. Over the years, the Kaizer Chiefs began to have a really large following.
The club enjoyed one of its best outings ever in the 2001–02 season when they emerged winners of four major trophies in just four months; they won the BP Top Eight, the Vodacom Challenge, the Coca-Cola Cup, and the African Cup Winners’ Cup. They became so fierce that they were referred to as a team that was on “Operation vat alles” (an Afrikaans statement meaning “take everything” in English). That season, they established their dominance in South African football.
However, even with all their success, the 2001-2002 season was also one of the worst seasons in the club’s history because of the Ellis Park Stadium disaster that happened on 11 April 2001. In that horrific disaster, about 43 fans were crushed to death during the Soweto Derby between Kaizer Chiefs and their arch-rivals Orlando Pirates. The Ellis Park Stadium disaster is now referred to as the worst sporting accident in South African history.
Over the years, putting the sad incident behind them, Kaizer Chiefs have continued to maintain dominance in the Premier Soccer League. They have won an amazing 13 league titles (four in the PSL era) and now boasts of over 50 club trophies. As matter of fact, Kaizer Chiefs now hold the most trophies amongst the other clubs in the PSL. They are also reported to be the most supported club in South Africa. Also, it is widely known that the Kaizer Chiefs maintain a very strong local rivalry with Orlando Pirates, a fellow Soweto team.
4. AmaZulu FC
- Net Worth: $9.3 million
- Nickname: Usuthu, Amaqhawe (Heroes)
- Year Founded: 1932
- Owner: Sandile Zungu
- No. of Domestic Titles: 4
With an estimated net worth of about $9.3 million, the AmaZulu Football Club, which is more simply known as AmaZulu, is now the 4th richest football team in South Africa. The club, which plays in the Premier Soccer League, is based in Umlazi in the city of Durban in the KwaZulu Natal province. Interestingly, one of the club’s nicknames, Usuthu, is actually a Zulu war cry.
AmaZulu F.C. is one of the oldest clubs in South Africa as it was founded in 1932 by some Zulu migrant workers. At the time, its name was originally called Zulu Royal Conquerors. However, the name was changed to Zulu Royals after the club was introduced to the Zulu king Solomon. The King also introduced the shield to their logo.
Years later, in 1971, the African Wanderers, a football team that was located in Kwa-Zulu Natal, started having problems competing in the National Professional League (NPSL) so the NPSL asked the Kwa-Zulu Natal Football Association to suspend African Wanderers from the NPSL and replace the club with another one. AmaZulu (which was known at the time as Zulu Royal), was chosen to replace African Wanderers. Zulu Royals went on to put up a strong performance, finishing 6th on the log and were voted club of the year. The very next year, the club won the 1972 N.P.S.L league title.
Despite this successful outing, Zulu Royals experienced a sharp slump in 1973 after several prominent players and the manager left the club. Years later in 1985, the club’s leadership fell into the hands of Mr. David Dlamini. During this time, AmaZulu FC made it to the finals of the mainstay Cup and Iwisa Charity Cup in 1987 and also won the inauguration Coca-Cola Cup and finished 3rd on the log in 1993.
In 2005, the club became the property of Dr. Patrick Sokhela who bought the team and renamed the club to AmaZulu Football Club. The club witnessed some performance crisis and was relegated in the 2014–15 season before they rejoined the Premier Soccer League. In October 2020, the current owner of the club, Sandile Zungu, purchased the club and became the 100% owner of AmaZulu F.C. He has made it clear that he has a 12-year plan to completely revamp the club.
5. Cape Town City F.C.
- Net Worth: $8.7 million
- Nickname: The Citizens, Blue and Gold Army
- Year Founded: 1962
- Owner: John Comitis
- No. of Domestic Titles: 2
With an estimated net worth of $8.7 million, Cape Town F.C. is the fifth richest football team in South Africa. As its name suggests, the football club, which plays in the Premier Soccer League, is based in Cape Town, the oldest and second-largest city in South Africa. The club’s home matches are played at the Cape Town Stadium.
Cape Town F.C. was formerly known as Mpumalanga Black Aces F.C. which competed in the 1960s. However, it fell into hard times and almost went extinct. Fortunately, it was reformed in 2016 when the current owner, John Comitis, bought the rights to the club which was located in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga at the time. He then relocated the club to Cape Town and renamed it Cape Town F.C. His reason for doing this was that he felt the city of Cape Town truly deserved a real powerhouse football club that could actively represent the old city’s footballing talent and heritage.
The club has since gone on to win silverware since its popular revamp. In fact, in 2016, the same year that John Comitis bought the club, Cape Town F.C. emerged winners of the Telkom Knockout competition. Two years later, in 2018, the club won the MTN 8 competition.
6. Supersport United FC
- Net Worth: $8.6 million
- Nickname: Matsatsantsa (The Swanky Boys, The Trendsetters)
- Year Founded: 1994
- Owner: SuperSport
- No. of Domestic Titles: 14
The Supersport United FC is now the sixth richest football team in South Africa with an estimated net worth of about $8.6 million. The professional football club currently plays in the Dstv Premiership and is based in Atteridgeville, a township located to the west of in Pretoria in the Gauteng province. The team club is fondly referred to as Matsatsantsa a Pitori by its many supporters.
Historically, Supersport United FC was originally known as Pretoria City. However, Pretoria City was acquired by M-Net in 1994 and a lot of changes were made under the new leadership, including the purchase of a number of high-profile local players to help change the club’s fortune. M-Net later got approval from the National Soccer League to the club’s name and so the club was renamed Supersport United FC. The club is now owned by SuperSport, the South African group of television channels.
The Supersport United FC is made of a professional football team that is affiliated to the Premier Soccer League as well as different other various youth academy teams in the SuperSport United Youth Academy. These youth teams currently play within their respective SAFA structures. As a matter of fact, the club’s youth academy is regarded to be one of the best in the country and has produced top names like Daine Klate, Kermit Erasmus, Ronwen Williams
Usually, the Supersport United FC plays its home matches at Lucas Moripe Stadium in Atteridgeville, Pretoria, but, recently, the club now takes many of its home matches to the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane. The club has earned success since its inception. It has won 3 Premier Soccer League titles, 5 Nedbank Cup titles, 3 MTN 8 titles and are winners of 1 Telkom Knockout.
7. Bloemfontein Celtic F.C.
- Net Worth: $6.8 million
- Nickname: Phunya Sele Sele, Siwelele
- Year Founded: 1969
- Owner: Max Tshabalala
- No. of Domestic Title: 1
With an estimated net worth of about $6.8 million, the Bloemfontein Celtic Football Club, which is more simply known as Celtic, is the 7th richest football team in South Africa. The professional football club which is based in Bloemfontein, the capital city of the Free State Province, competed in the DStv Premiership. The club plays its home matches in Dr. Petrus Molemela Stadium formerly known as Seisa Ramabodu Stadium.
The Bloemfontein Celtic Football Club was founded by Norman Mathobisa and Victor Mahatane in 1969. The two men managed the club and steered it to gain some popularity until the early 1980s when they were overwhelmed by some financial challenges which forced them to relinquish ownership of the club. They then sold the club to Petrus “Whitehead” Molemela.
Molemela administered the club until November 2001 when the club went into relegation. After Bloemfontein Celtic F.C. relegation, Molemela sold his shares in the club to a former Celtic player called Demetri “Jimmy” Augousti. Augousti managed the team well and, after three years, led them back to regain their PSL status after managing a really impressive season in 2003–04. That season, they were crowned the First Division champions and also won the 2005 SAA Supa 8 and the 2007 Telkom Charity Cup.
Years later, in 2009, the club went into a partnership with Sporting CP, a Portuguese club to create a youth academy, based in the capital of the Free State. It was a welcome development as it led to the provision of facilities to help young talents grow. In July 2014, the club was taken over by the current owner, Max Tshabalala. Tshabalala also owns Roses United, another football club based in Bloemfontein.
8. Lamontville Golden Arrows F.C.
- Net Worth: $6.18 million
- Nickname: Abafana Bes’thende (The Backheel Boys)
- Year Founded: 1943
- Owner: Mato Madlala
- No. of Domestic Titles: 2
With an estimated net worth of about $6.18 million, Lamontville Golden Arrows F.C. is currently the 8th richest football team in South Africa. The soccer club which plays in the Premier Soccer League is now based in Durban.
The history of Lamontville Golden Arrows dates back to the 1940s. The club was founded in the streets of Lamontville, a township in Durban in 1943. At first, the club played in the now-defunct National Professional Soccer League in the 1970s. However, they eventually were relegated from the league in 1976. Following their relegation, the club played in the Second Division until 1980 when they got entangled in a serious soccer scandal and were thrown out of the National Professional Soccer League.
Years later, in 1996, the club came alive again when the Madlala family acquired the Second Division franchise of Ntokozo FC and renamed it Lamontville Golden Arrows. The club played in the Second Division until 2000 when they won promotion to the PSL by emerging winners of the National First Division Coastal Stream. The club then won their first major silverware in 2009 when emerged winners of the MTN 8. They won the MTN 8 in a spectacular fashion by thrashing Ajax Cape Town 6–0 during the final of the competition which was played at Orlando Stadium.
9. Black Leopards F.C.
- Net Worth: $6.1 million
- Nickname: Lidoda Duvha (The day will come)
- Year Founded: 1983
- Owner: David Thidiela
With an estimated net worth of $6.1 million, the Black Leopards FC is now the 9th richest football team in South Africa. The football club which plays in the Premier Soccer League is based in Thohoyandou, Vhembe Region, Limpopo.
The Black Leopards Football Club was formed in 1983 by some business people in the Vhembe Region. They continued administrating the club for years, however, the team kept witnessing a mixture of hiccups and minor successes. Years later, in 1998, the club was taken over by the Thidiela family.
The Thidiela family led by David Thidiela administered the club and, after campaigning in the National First Division for just two seasons, the Black Leopards FC was promoted to the ABSA Premier Soccer League in 2000. Years later in 2008, things took a dramatic turn and the club was relegated back to the National First Division after playing for seven seasons in the Absa Premiership. Fortunately, after playing in the National First Division for about three years, the club made its return to the top-tier division.
10. Moroka Swallows F.C.
- Net Worth: $5.8 million
- Nickname: The Dube Birds, Amaswaiswai, The Beautiful Birds
- Year Founded: 1947
- Owner: David Mogashoa
- No. of Domestic Titles: 9
With an estimated net worth of about $5.8 million, the Moroka Swallows F.C. is the 10th richest football team in South Africa. The professional football club, which plays in the Premier Soccer League, is based in Soweto in the city of Johannesburg in the Gauteng province.
Moroka Swallows F.C. is a very old club. It was founded in the 1940s by Ishmael Lesolang, Strike Makgatha, and Johnny Kubheka, a trio of soccer lovers, who originally named the club Congregated Rovers. This was because Congregated Rovers was actually the name of a firm where most of the players and officials worked at the time. However, after some time, the trio changed the name of the club to Moroka Rovers. They finally changed the name to what the club is now known as Moroka Swallows on 10 October 1947. It is noteworthy that the name ‘moroka’ actually means ‘rain maker’ in Setswana.
Moroka Swallows F.C. found massive success in the 1950s and 1960s, eventually emerging winners of the South African League title in 1965. This is considered their greatest ever achievement. Business-wise, the club went on to become a success off the pitch and they became the first-ever football team to become registered as a public company in 1971. In that same year, Moroka Swallows became the first to receive an official sponsorship when Teljoy began their association with the club.
Between 1982 and 1992, the Moroka Swallows found some more success, winning as many as four pieces of silverware during that period. Years later in 2009, the club won the Nedbank Cup, two years after they celebrated their 60th anniversary. This was the club’s first piece of silverware for five years. Things took a dramatic turn in the 2013-14 season when the club, beginning to do badly on the pitch, narrowly escaped being relegated. Things went from bad to worse in the 2014–15 season as the club got relegated for the first time in their history.
Even after their relegation, the club continued to struggle in the National First Division and was eventually relegated again to the SAFA Second Division. The club began to try to build back and, prior to the beginning of the 2018–19 season, they purchased the franchise of National First Division team Maccabi for R8 million, and were able to compete in the 2019–20 National First Division. The club then gained promotion to the Premier Soccer League at the end of the 2019–20 National First Division season.
The Five Richest Club Owners In South Africa
Without a doubt, the owners of football clubs are rich people. Otherwise, how can they have acquired the clubs in the first place? Let us take a look at some of the richest club owners in South Africa.
1. Johann Rupert
- Club: Stellenbosch
- Net worth: $7.1 billion
Johann Rupert is a very wealthy South African-born entrepreneur, who is the owner of the Stellenbosch FC, a football club established in 2016, and the first Premier Soccer League team to be based in Stellenbosch. Rupert is the chairman of Richemont, a Swiss-based luxury goods company, and the South Africa-based company Remgro.
With a net worth of $7.1 billion, he is the richest football club owner in South Africa. He is actually one of the wealthiest people in the entire country.
2. Patrice Motsepe
- Club: Mamelodi Sundowns
- Net Worth: $2.9 billion
Patrice Motsepe is a South African mining billionaire businessman who is the owner of Mamelodi Sundowns. The businessman has been serving as the President of the Confederation of African Football since 12 March 2021. With a net worth of about $2.9 billion, he is the second richest club owner in South Africa and also one of the wealthiest men in the country.
3. Kaizer Motaung
- Club: Kaizer Chiefs
- Net Worth: $60 million
Kaizer Motaung is a former South African soccer star who is now the founder and owner of Kaizer Chiefs FC. He serves as chairman and managing director of the club. With a net worth of about $60 million, he is the third richest football club owner in South Africa.
4. Irvin Khoza
- Club: Orlando Pirates
- Net worth: $10 million
Irvin Khoza is a South African businessman and sports administrator who is more widely known as the owner of the football club, Orlando Pirates. With an estimated net worth of about $10 million, he is the fourth richest football club owner in South Africa.
5. John Comitis
- Club: Cape Town City FC
- Net Worth: 9 million
John Comitis is a South African former football player and businessman who is the owner of the football club, Cape Town FC. With a net worth of about $9 million, he is the fifth richest owner of a football club in South Africa.