The Premier Soccer League (PSL) believes that the immediate resumption of football will ease the financial pressure that has hit clubs and stakeholders due to Covid-19.
It’s been four months since the domestic season came to an abrupt halt. But in the last few weeks, the Joint Liaison Committee (JLC), which consists of the South African Football Association together with its special member the PSL, made a successful bid to the government for football to resume in a biologically safe environment.
Given that there were several protocols to follow in ensuring that the safety and health of everyone that enters the “bio-bubble” are not compromised, Safa suggested that football can resume under level 1 regulations.
But the PSL believes that the sooner the season is concluded, the better it will be for everyone involved.
Acting PSL chief executive Mato Madlala last Friday sent a detailed letter to Safa’s acting chief executive Tebogo Motlanthe, informing him of the league’s Board of Governors (BoG) proposal to declare Gauteng as the base of the bio-bubble and restart football on July 18.
In the letter, Madlala went on to detail a list of stadiums and training venues that will be used during the restart of the season.
Motlanthe, however, dismissed the PSL suggestions, saying it will only be practical to start the season after August 1.
This week on Monday, the JLC met to illustrate the way forward through a compliance officers meeting, but PSL chairman Irvin Khoza, during his press conference, said they already have an immediate plan for the resumption of football and now everything is in the mother body’s hands.
“When we prepare the fixtures, we send them to Safa and they come to us with the response. We’ve set a date for the resumption of football and they’ll be the ones that will come back to us to indicate the way forward,” Khoza said.
Among the issues that were set to be discussed by the JLC was the preparation and readiness of officials for the return for football.
In the last few weeks, most of the 32 PSL clubs (Premiership and Championship) returned to training after adhering to health and safety protocols after approval by the PSL’s compliance officer Michael Murphy.
The testing procedures may be deemed costly, but all 32 clubs will also be expected to undergo the last testing routine 48 hours before assembling in the bio-bubble, while an account for those testing positive for Covid-19 has been opened.
“There are two testings that are compulsory – the first test and 48 hours before going into the bubble. As I speak now, the PSL has opened up an account to one of the national footprints (testing laboratories) to make it easy for the clubs,” Khoza explained.
“For clubs that do not have funds, the league has opened an account where the money they’ll use will be deducted later on from the monies that were supposed to be paid to them,” he noted.
Therein lies the PSL’s urge to restart the season as soon as possible. As the season was scheduled to have come to an end on June 30, that meant that monthly grants were not paid to the clubs beyond that.
“The sponsors have been gentle in the last four months, especially the broadcaster (MultiChoice) because they’ve paid us and we’ve been paying monthly grants without them asking questions in terms of what they get in return,” said Khoza.
He continued: “And that is why it is important to restart because beyond June 30 we were not going to be able to pay the club grants.
“And if that continues for an extended period, that means we are supposed to revert to retrenchments.”
In a statement, Motlanthe said that the PSL was ignoring directives from the government in making unilateral declarations of their intent to resume training and play on a hurried schedule.
“The unilateral confirmation of training venues and date for resumption of play on 18 July 2020 by the NSL is against the spirit of our meeting and the resolutions of the Joint Liaison Committee. Sadly, it also undermines Minister Mthethwa’s directive that the association should play an overarching role in this matter,” indicated Motlanthe in a letter leaked to the press.
He also explained: “I wish to reiterate two critical factors we outlined at the meeting today (Friday), namely; that we are committed to the resumption of play under safe conditions wherein the safety of players, team officials, match officials, and other participants are not compromised and secondly, that for the reasons outlined at the meeting and in the presentation I have since sent you, it is not practical to expect the resumption of play before 01 August 2020. It is for this reason that we agreed to invite the management of the Referees Department to our next meeting to outline their project timelines, which will then enable all of us to make informed, responsible decisions.”