S'Busiso Mseleku

All is not well at the PSL

2012-08-06 07:11
Sport24 columnist S’Busiso Mseleku (File)
Despite statements by Premier Soccer League (PSL) chairperosn Irvin “The Duke” Khoza that there is no crisis, indications are that all is not kosher at the Parktown, Johannesburg-based outfit.

It was so uncharacteristic for the PSL to announce their partnership renewal with MTN only on Tuesday when the tournament had already been penciled to kick off on Friday, only three days later.

It also raises eyebrows that up to now, the league has not issued their Premiership fixtures for the year.

Not only that, the PSL is yet to make an announcement about their partnerships with league sponsors Absa, Nedbank and Telkom. All these agreements have expired.

The silence is quite contrary to the fanfare that surrounded the initial announcements a few years go. Could this be an indication that the World Cup honeymoon is over?

Recently, the South African Football Association (SAFA) – who in 2008 made a groundbreaking announcement that Absa and SAB were to pour R500 million into their coffers over five years – announced an extension of their partnership with the beer-making firm.

However, this time around, the sponsorship is now R20 million a year as compared to the R50 million annually announced in 2008.

Absa is also said to be coming in at R20 million maphepha per year over the next five years.

Now, the PSL who have always prided themselves on doing things more professionally and being more powerful than the sods across town at SAFA House, seem to be caught in the same whirlwind.

Even the announcement they made earlier about SuperSport renewing their partnership, was not as robust as it was in 2007 when they jumped into being one of the Top 10 best funded leagues in the world. The increase in sponsorship money was quite minimal.

It does not help also that the PSL has been bleeding top executives in the last few months. Since the departure of Norwegian Kjetil Siem, they have had two CEOs in eight months.

Their formerly long-serving pro forma prosecutor Zola Majavu lasted only three months and Stanley Matthews recently tendered his resignation after five months on the hot seat.

Add to that the fact that the 16 National First Division (NFD) clubs are up in arms about the shabby treatment they receive from the organization they claim treats them as Cinderella cousins, you have a potpourri of problems.

So under these circumstances, it is quite disingenuous for Khoza to claim that there is no crisis.

Any organization that loses two CEOs in eight months does have cause for concern.

Any organization that announces a sponsorship extension three days before the tournament kicks off, has a lot of explaining to do.

In fact, Sunday newspapers were even told not to refer to the competition as the MTN8 but just Top 8. This shows that no agreement had been reached by the weekend, a week before the tournament was set to kick-off.

One is tempted to believe those who say the PSL was holding out for more money but in the end MTN got their way and came in with less than what the league was asking for.

Otherwise, the PSL would have made a noise louder than when the deal was initially announced.

That the Premiership fixtures have yet not been released at this time of the year is an indication that the league and Absa have not reached agreement as yet.

It is clear that the marriage is no longer as cozy as it was heading to the World Cup. It is also clear that companies are no longer quieting outside the PSL door, cap-in-hand begging to come in as sponsors.

This should be a wake-up call as while the money was rolling in, very little was done to improve the product, which is the football being played on the field.

The honeymoon is definitely over.

S’Busiso Mseleku is regarded as one of Africa's leading sports journalists and an authority on football. He has received some of the biggest awards in a career spanning well over 20 years. He is currently City Press Sports Editor.

Disclaimer: 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  |  irvin khoza  |  soccer
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