Fresh goals for PSL committee
Sport24 columnist Mark Gleeson (File)
A new chapter of sorts begins later this week when the Premier Soccer League votes in a new executive committee.
Elections will ensure one or two changes even though Irvin Khoza remains the chairperson.
So while the period of appointment for a fresh four-year term, the key personnel are not.
It comes at an opportunity to set fresh goals and to seek to better the professional game.
There are some fundamental improvements and ambitions that the league can seek to achieve in this new cycle.
1. To get people back to the stadiums and ensure decent crowds for all games
2. To grow better local talent and cut the number of foreigners who play in the league
To achieve the first will be difficult but the second easy. The league should strive for both because the end result will be of massive benefits for all clubs.
Ensuring better attendances will only come about when going to football becomes a pleasant experience. At the moment it is haphazard.
There are dramatic, action-filled games that enlivened our senses, like Sunday’s cup tie between Bloemfontein Celtic and Orlando Pirates that help to draw people back but unfortunately are rare.
Going to a sports event these days is more of an outing than a blind calling. People have other options and those who follow with a blind loyalty are few. Attendees expect certainties in return for their price of admission.
They do not always expect it will be a great game of football but I think if the clubs strove to ensure that spectators were treated properly they would engender a confidence that would see consumers willing to watch on a regular basis.
Tickets need to be sold for pre-determined seats so that patrons know what they getting and anti-social behaviour must to be dealt with swiftly by stewards and security personnel.
I want to take my family to matches, to know where I ‘m going to sit and to know that around me people are not going to smoke, relieve themselves in the aisle or behave in a disrespectful manner.
Stewards must be empowered to kick out those who do not comply as they must be employed to direct people to their correct seat.
These two simple factors will ensure the continuity that builds audiences and turns the game day experience into the entertainment people want to partake of.
Currently when my family goes to PSL games they are never sure whether it will be a good experience or not. Once they are subjected to boorish behaviour they do not want to go back.
And this is fundamentally why crowds are not thin and a ticket to a soccer match in South Africa is not a desirous commodity, save for the special derby matches and major finals.
It should be the opposite because fundamentally people like to support a club, join a ‘tribe’ as it were; identify with a cause, wear colours etc.
It is an ancient need that sport fulfills so well elsewhere in the world.
Clubs must invest in better ticketing and proper crowd stewarding. The PSL should make it mandatory for all its members, no matter how small the crowds at present. At the moment stewards, almost exclusively untrained and docile, are only there to protect the field of play from the public. They should be there to serve the public.
As for foreign players, there are too many in the PSL and its long term impact is now being felt.
Five per club is fine but the rule that allows foreigners to turn ‘South African’ once they get permanent residence or an ID number is wrong. It means most sides now have seven or eight foreigners on their books.
The definition of a foreign footballer must be changed to include those who are ineligible to play for South Africa, even if they permanent residents or later become citizens.
Mark Gleeson is a respected television commentator and Editorial Director of Mzanzi Football.
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.