Bidvest Wits and Orlando Pirates spoke in one voice last night as they accepted the decision by the Premier Soccer League (PSL) to postpone their highly anticipated Absa Premiership clash at Bidvest Stadium.
The PSL was forced to cancel the scheduled game after threats erupted that the Wits University students were planning to disrupt the match, which was due to be played at the stadium situated in the campus.
Wits CEO José Ferreira and Bucs coach Muhsin Ertugral accepted the reasoning behind safety first, which came from the league and had to make do with the decision.
University students across the country are protesting after Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande announced that varsities are at liberty to increase their 2017 fees, but not above 8%.
This has irked the #FeesMustFall movement, which clashed with police on numerous occasions this week in protest.
Ferreira said: “Yes, the game was postponed for safety and security reasons by the PSL. But only the PSL can only confirm when the game be played.”
Asked why the game wasn’t just moved to another venue, Ferreira replied: “Until late this afternoon [yesterday], we had no belief that there would be any disruptions. The game couldn’t have been played somewhere else with less than three hours to go before kickoff.”
However, Ertugral said that he needed to be informed as early as possible about the new date of the match as he raised concerns over the number of international players he has in his ensemble who would be away on respective continental competitions early next month.
“The problem is that we have nine players in the national teams, with seven in the Bafana Bafana squad [for 2018 Fifa World Cup qualifier against Burkina Faso on October 8] and two other internationals. Nine players will be going away soon. It is important to know when is this game is going to be played so that we can plan properly.”
But the league said it would inform the public and the clubs about the new date in due course.
Ertugral said: “The postponement is for security reasons according to the information that we have. We wanted to play the game and the players were ready to play. But it is not in our hands and there is nothing that we can do.
“Tomorrow [today], it is back to training and we will concentrate on our next game [against Platinum Stars at Orlando Stadium on Tuesday]. If it was possible to play the match somewhere else, that would have been fantastic.”
Acting PSL CEO Mato Madlala said the league had been monitoring the situation at the Wits campus because of the student activism.
She said: “In the past few days, we held several discussions with the home club and security clusters involved on the situation. Following consultation with the police, we have therefore made a decision to call off the game for safety and security reasons.”