To play on - or holiday?
Sport24 columnist S'Busiso Mseleku (File)
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To change or stay with the status quo? This must be the poser facing the Premier Soccer League (PSL).
While the English Premier League (EPL) on which the PSL is modeled goes on right through the festive season, the local league usually goes on a Christmas break at this time of the year.
This is even in years when there is no Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) as is the case this season - and was also the situation last season.
What boggles the mind though, is that while the break is said to be for the benefit of the players in order to give them a chance to recharge their batteries, most of them don’t rest.
There are those who really take a holiday and really unwind, but the majority are involved in off-season games. Some of them even host their own tournaments where they also participate as players of some clubs participating in the tournament.
Watching Boxing Day fixtures in England and observing the excitement around these matches, one couldn’t help but think that maybe it was high time the PSL had a rethink.
Although the South African scene goes to sleep in December, the offseason games have shown that people are always hungry for football action.
Football is indeed the masses’ opium.
The PSL says it would like to build itself into the same level as the leading leagues in the world such as the EPL, German’s Bundesliga, Spanish La Liga, Italian Serie A and France’s Ligue 1.
One couldn’t help but think how much television revenue was generated by the EPL just for having a full fixture on Boxing Day. Watching television is a habit and people who watch television need their fix as regularly as any addicts.
The tendency here in South Africa has been to show reruns on television during this time.
The PSL - which prides itself on being quite good in conducting research - should gather viewership ratings over this period and see if it’s not worth their while to have live matches.
One is saying this fully aware that Trevor Phillips the PSL’s founding CEO tried to have the season go right through the festive season as it is the case in England - and failed.
However, this is worth trying once more as times they are a changing.
People do adapt to new ways of life even though it takes time in some instances.
Playing during this time will also give new potential advertisers and sponsors who are not necessarily involved in football to see an opportunity to market their Christmas-related products.
This would in turn provide new streams of revenue for the PSL.
When growing a brand, you need to explore all available avenues and not only rely on traditional, tried and tested methods.
Everything evolves and there is no way that your product can grow unless it evolves with the times. Otherwise, it will perish.
The June/July off-season should be enough for players to recharge their batteries and after that be able to practice their trade week in and week out. After all, they are professionals and how many people enjoy a two-month leave period per year?
This is something really worthy for the PSL to explore: South Africa is full of people who breathe, eat, sleep and live football.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.
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