PSL right... but still losers

2013-05-16 13:37
Sport24 columnist Ant Sims (File)
The Premier Soccer League caused a right fuss last week when it denied Ajax Cape Town permission to play Liverpool in a friendly. 

The match was scheduled for May 21, three days after Ajax were due to complete their PSL commitments and four days prior to the Nedbank Cup final, a clash seen as the close of the South African domestic season.

Ajax had no chance of making the final (they’re not in the semi-finals), and many feel the fixture would have had no impact on the remainder of their season, but soccer isn’t quite so simple and the interference by those who aren’t the custodians of football in South Africa is rather arrogant and disrespectful.

Would a PSL team or even a Spanish, German, Turkish, hell, even a Finnish team be allowed a friendly during peak season in those countries?

Of course not.

Even international matches get a window to be played in, but that kind of logical has seemingly been disregarded. Events and sponsors of the league all have an impact on what can and can’t be done during the season and with the equivalent of the FA Cup final due after a match which some might say was bigger than that, the PSL were absolutely right to block Liverpool from visiting Cape Town.

It’s become a tradition of sorts for English teams to travel to South Africa in the preseason and Manchester City will do so, but Liverpool and those in charge of marketing at the City of Cape Town have seemingly forgotten how things work.  Of course, it’s less about the football and more about the marketing for the City, really.

The downside is that the PSL will still lose and it’s the last thing it needs. South African football needs a kick up the backside and while fans drip in to watch matches, especially the big ones, support for local football teams still leaves much to be desired. 

Sure, those who pitched up for the Ajax vs Liverpool clash would have been Liverpool “supporters”, but at least it would have put a spot light on some of the footballing prowess which can be found in Cape Town.

The PSL serves as the custodians of football in South Africa and not the custodians of tourism and marketing and while a fixture against Liverpool is probably as big as it will get for most of the players at the club, but the PSL, just like the City of Cape Town, has its own business to take care of.

Logically, friendlies have no place during peak football season, but logic doesn’t exist in the minds of football fans and all of those who were so excited about the match (or excited about Liverpool visiting South Africa for the first time in nearly two decades, anyway) are now lashing out at the Premier Soccer League for following protocol. 

It’s a testament to just how little understanding there is for the game in South Africa and, alarmingly, the little regard for the domestic league. Even Ajax themselves have “expressed disappointment” at the decision, understandable considering the possible revenue loss the PSL’s decision holds for them, but you can’t have your bread buttered on both sides and Ajax would have been well-aware of the rules regarding local sponsorship during the season.

Those who were shaking their tourism money-makers tried their best to have the fixture go ahead and wanted to put together a makeshift side to take on the English side, but Liverpool felt that wasn’t good enough for them and cancelled the trip.

One can only hope that the City of Cape Town have learned their lesson - don’t interfere with things you don’t understand or, perhaps, just use a little bit of marketing logic if marketing is your goal when you go around interfering with other people’s business.

Ant Sims is a freelance writer who writes mainly about soccer and cricket for The Daily Maverick or anybody else who will have her...

Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.

Read more on:    psl  |  ant sims  |  soccer

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