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Return date finally set for SA football

Irvin Khoza says the intention is to finish the PSL season in early September. Picture: Sydney Mahlangu / BackpagePix

The PSL season is scheduled to resume next Saturday as the organisation is hellbent on ensuring that all stakeholders – especially sponsors and broadcasters – who have backed them during these trying times get their money’s worth.

For four months South African football has been on hold due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but the PSL were still able to pay monthly grants to clubs during that period as MultiChoice, Absa and Nedbank continued to provide financial support.

In their bid to ensure that every stakeholder was appeased, the PSL yesterday confirmed that the Nedbank Cup semi-finals will kickstart the resumption of the season next Saturday – with Wits scheduled to face Mamelodi Sundowns. In the second semi-final, Bloemfontein Celtic will square off with Baroka FC. Both games will be played in the Gauteng “bio-bubble”, with venues still to be confirmed.

The league is set to resume on August 11, with dates and venues also to be announced in due course. PSL chairman Irvin Khoza said yesterday that the intention is to finish the season in early September, with some teams likely to play every three days.

The Nedbank Cup final will also be played at the end of the season, and will be followed by the PSL promotion/relegation play-offs.

In the bigger scheme of things the PSL clearly felt that it was important that Absa, their chief sponsor, sign off in style. The banking group didn’t renew their commercial agreement with the league after being involved in professional football for the last 16 years – sponsoring the Absa Cup and Absa Premiership.

MultiChoice, on the other hand, continued to fork out money to the PSL for the last four months, even without matches to broadcast.

Khoza explained the “unanimous decision” after the board of governors meeting yesterday.

“It was good for us (that we found the time to resume) because you must understand that we’ve had sponsors that have been good to us. We must understand that they are in the position of selling content,” Khoza said.

“Nobody will pay you money if you are not delivering the content that they are paying for. And they’ve been generous in ensuring that we’ve resolved all the issues that we wanted to resolve.”

As for the 32 clubs (PSL and GladAfrica Championship), Khoza drew inspiration from the fact that it was confirmed that there was only one club that hadn’t adhered to all the requirements pertaining to the resumption.

“Most of the clubs in the PSL have made it possible to ensure that they’ve complied with all the returning protocols – which is an issue that will be important when the teams assemble in the biological safe environment,” Khoza explained.

“In the board of governors meeting, it was reported that most of the clubs have complied, except one. But if any club doesn’t comply with the necessary restrictions before going to the ‘bio-bubble’, then they are out.”

With the last round of testing 48 hours before assembling in the safe environment, Khoza says that “going into the bubble being negative, we hope that it stays that way because we’ve said that if you go out then you don’t come back.

“If anything happens, the medical officer of the PSL will have to ensure that all safety protocols are followed.”

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