Mark Gleeson

PSL blunder 'costing' them

2010-11-01 07:01
Sport24 columnist Mark Gleeson (File)
Mark Gleeson
Here is the scenario: Kaizer Chiefs are the only unbeaten side left in the Premier Soccer League, up against the three-time league champions, in a key league game, albeit early in the season.

The sun is shining, the venue inside the township and the build-up intense.

Yet, Sunday’s game at the Super Stadium in Atteridgeville attracted only some 15 000 spectators, leaving the concrete venue with gaping holes in the stands.

Ordinarily it would have been a must-have ticket affair and certainly those who bothered to turn up were treated to a game of twists and turns, finished off with an even more dramatic thunderstorm.

Supposedly the World Cup was to give a massive boost to attendances in the PSL, where for decades only a handful of teams could point to their ability to regularly draw decent sized crowd.

But when an unbeaten Chiefs, with a very real chances of beating the champions, can only attract 15 000 spectators for a top league encounter, something is wrong.

Firstly, that World Cup wave is over. And that is no surprise. All those newcomers to the game, mainly from across the racial divide, went to watch the World Cup hot soccer.

The difference, you might ask, is they were there to partake in an international, once-in a-lifetime spectacle played out in their own country, not because of a sudden conversion to the cause of football.

It was naïve to believe there would now be a sudden influx of white and Indian fans to PSL games.

But the real reason even Chiefs can’t pull in the fans these days is not World Cup related. It is the stupid decision to double the price of tickets for the season that the league made at the start of the season.

The cost of entry to PSL games went up from R20 to R40 and the result at the gate has been marked. The league was greedy to seek a 100 percent increase and their motivation delusion.

Owners are kidding themselves if they believe they have a quality product that can demand a 100 percent rise at the gate. They are dreaming if they believe people can absorb such a spike.

Times are tough of any and, although supporters passionate, if they are forced to make sacrifices, it is their favourite soccer team that is going to drop off the list of necessities.

The PSL made a bad tactical move in the gate price and the people are speaking with their feet, staying away from the games.

It will be massive disappointing, given how well both Chiefs and Orlando Pirates are playing, if the Orlando Stadium is not sold out for the derby on November 13. If that happens, it will be essential to drop the admission price and for the PSL to admit its error.

That have misread the market and made a bad judgment call.

Mark Gleeson is a respected television commentator and Editorial Director of Mzansi Football.

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