Johannesburg - Stats SA painted a bleak future when it released the latest unemployment statistics last month.
The unemployment rate in South Africa increased to 27.7% in the first quarter of this year, up from 26.5% in the previous period. It is the highest jobless rate since the first quarter of 2004.
Accordingly, the number of jobless people rose by 433 000 to 6.2 million – the highest since 2001. It would have been more, had Stats SA considered the rate at which football players are being discarded by their clubs as their contracts do not get renewed or they are simply terminated.
Considering the current recession, clubs are operating on tight budgets and are limiting their personnel numbers – resulting in more players finding themselves on the sidelines – as they try to protect their bottom lines.
At the end of every season, or just before the new one, the PSL reminds us on multiple occasions that it is first and foremost a business.
With the 2017/18 soccer calendar almost upon us, preseason training camps are just around the corner or have already started for some, but a number of players are running around desperately trying to find employment.
Some players will have a restless break as they strive to find jobs elsewhere after parting ways with their current employers.
Many players could find themselves walking the streets if they do not get new employment. They will have to go great lengths to beg and prove their fitness and talent levels, and they risk being taken for a ride and having their previous salaries cut.
Unfortunately, the queue is not getting shorter as some players from previous seasons are still waiting for job offers.
But others could be fortunate as they might get snapped up quickly after being available on the market for free.
Most are leaving their clubs because they have been deemed to be surplus weight and have not done enough to ensure their stay.
From former Bafana Bafana midfielder Teko Modise, who, after spending seven seasons at Sundowns, was released and is on the market for a new home, to little-known players, the list is going to swell as more clubs take stock and map the way forward.
Kaizer Chiefs will release seven players – their contracts will either not be renewed or they will be released from their agreements.
Siyanda Xulu and Camaldine Abraw will not form part of Steve Komphela’s plans for the upcoming season. Lucky Baloyi and Lewis Macha have also been released by the club, while Enocent Mkhabela will be allowed to join Platinum Stars permanently.
Zimbabwean attacker Michelle Katsvairo will be lent out next season, while Siphelele Mthembu’s contract will not be renewed.
Amakhosi are not the only side with a massive clearance sale as other clubs have also released players.
After relegation to the National First Division, it is not surprising that Highlands Park have also discarded a few of those who failed to help them secure Premiership status.
Baroka FC cut 13 of their players, including Mxolisi Kunene, Jacky Motshegwa, Siphamandla Sangweni, Tshepiso Lietsisa, Siphelele Zikalala, Helder Pelembe, Mndeni Zikalala, Magoro Letsoalo, Khunadi Nkoana, Caswell Chauke, Ndivhuwo Ravhuhali, Thapelo Maleka and Nkosinathi Ogle.
Meanwhile, Thanda Royal Zulu’s players are uncertain about the future. The club is on the verge of being sold to AmaZulu and they do not know if they will be part of the deal or will have to look elsewhere for employment.
Platinum Stars have also let go of three veterans – Ndumiso Mabena, Solomon Mathe and Tintswalo Tshabalala – to make way for new blood.
This is not the end of the process as more clubs are still taking stock and may release more players soon.