Absa Premiership

PSL in bitter fight to retain annual R938m revenue

2019-02-01 13:46
Irvin Khoza (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Chairperson Irvin Khoza this week revealed details of the PSL's bitter fight to retain its massive annual R938 million revenue nest egg - which could realistically top the trillion-rand mark in future.

The PSL finds itself embroiled in an uncompromising battle with the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), which is seeking to curb the League's "exclusive" TV match deal with SuperSport that provides the League with the lion's share of its massive earnings.

In a nutshell, what ICASA is attempting to implement is to transform Absa Premiership fixtures, for which SuperSport has granted South Africa's professional soccer organisation exclusive rights in a deal of no small enormity, into a category reserved for international fixtures and thereby open an inviting door for other TV organisations like SABC to insert a finger into the pie.

Should this become law - and right now it is only in the realms of a highly controversial proposal - business-conscience SuperSport would probably see no necessity to pay the PSL its current juicy fortune and trim the amount considerably.

Nicknamed "The Iron Duke", the tough-talking Khoza went as far as to raise the unthinkable and inflammable possibility of the PSL closing down if ICASA 's intervention in the matter at hand became law - and while there might be some element of exaggeration to the chairperson's threat, there is no doubt that in many ways professional soccer would take a plummeting downward spiral in South Africa - with the players probably the greatest sufferers in the process.

Currently the PSL is handing the 16 Absa Premiership clubs a whopping overall R31 million a year  - R2 million a month with an extra bonus incentive of R7 million - to improve  their standards in various respects, but mainly to dramatically raise the level of salaries and other payments for players from what was in many cases a pitiful amount 15 years ago to hundreds of thousands of rands at the very top level it has reached right now.

Even though some club owners have cynically used the PSL grants to help line their own pockets, in most instances the money injection has been used in the manner for which it was intended - with clubs in the subsidiary National First Division (NFD) also benefiting from lesser grants.

Khoza claims that the clubs have been able to run their affairs on a professional basis - although his assertion that the Absa Premiership is now overall among the top soccer leagues in the world is tinged with a degree of exaggeration.

But such is the harmonious relationship between the PSL and SuperSport right now that the TV giant is televising games in numerous African countries and has even gone to the length of publicising  PSL reserve league games under the colourful, if sometimes confusing for viewers Diski Challenge banner - something that may not happen anywhere else in the world.

The point Khoza makes is that the money from SuperSport is helping to improve the standard of professional soccer in the country for the clubs and players and as a consequence for the supporters as well - even though the clubs claim that additional sponsorship apart from the League's grants is still needed to be truly competitive in the Absa Premiership.

So what is ICASA's attitude towards the PSL's standpoint, particularly with the disclosure that major cup semi-final and final matches and derbies are currently subjected to open viewing by other TV channels?

The most  powerful argument, it seems, that ICASA is considering is that a large percentage of the multitude of soccer followers among South Africa's 60-million or so population cannot afford to subscribe to SuperSport - even at the reduced concession rates that have been introduced and thereby maintain a situation whereby the poorest continue to be the sufferers while missing out on viewing  local soccer games on TV.

And while the argument over PSL exclusivity of TV rights continues to rage, ICASA has come out with a statement that it will take note of all the various arguments before finalising their standpoint.

The PSL though via Khoza's "Iron Duke" approach are reaffirming a matter of life and death attitude - and sources within the League have suggested the matter could end up in the law courts if any ruling is taken that will cripple their future.

Read more on:    absa premiership  |  irvin khoza  |  soccer


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