Absa Premiership

PSL: The league comes of age

2017-08-20 08:30

Johannesburg - Do you remember Michau Warriors FC from Port Elizabeth?

And, more importantly, do you remember Manning Rangers from Chatsworth, Durban?

If so, do you ever wonder what happened to them?

Well, the two clubs suffered opposite fortunes in the inaugural PSL season in 1996.

Warriors were the first to suffer relegation in the PSL era, while Rangers were crowned league champions that year.

They have both since disappeared from the South African professional football scene, much like the dodo went extinct.

Other clubs that were around then who have vanished from the professional set-up are Umtata Bush Bucks, Hellenic, Witbank Black Aces, Real Rovers and Vaal Professionals.

These do indeed sound like distant memories, as it was 21 years ago with the league under a different sponsor.

The PSL kicked off its 21st year, which is the 11th as the Absa Premiership, with defending champions Bidvest Wits going 1-0 down to Cape Town City on Friday night.

The story of the birth of the PSL goes like this: After the idea had been mooted, a delegation from the then National Soccer League (NSL) made up of Irvin Khoza, Kaizer Motaung, Raymond Hack and Jomo Sono travelled to England.

Their purpose was to coerce one Trevor Phillips – who was in charge of marketing at the English Premier League, which itself had been formed in 1992 (they are celebrating 25 years this year) – to come to Africa to help establish a fully professional and financially viable league.

The rest, as they say, is history as the man, who was to be known as “The British Bulldog”, helped establish what has since become among the 16 richest leagues in the world.

Veteran football administrator Professor Ronnie Schloss, known to possess an elephant’s memory, could not remember how much the total sponsorship was then, except to chuckle: “I think it was about R400 000 or somewhere thereabout.”

Today, the league winners – as happened with Wits last season – get a whopping R10 million.

Just recently, clubs shared R80 million to prepare for this season. This was divvied up as R4 million for each of the 16 Premiership clubs and R1 million each for the 16 National First Division outfits.

At the beginning of this week, the PSL and Absa revealed that they had extended their partnership for another five years, in a deal said to be worth R500 million.

There has been speculation that the deal to extend the existing R2 billion agreement between the PSL and official broadcaster, SuperSport, that ends this season, is already in the bag and the figure being bandied about is R3 billion.

Absa have come up with some creative innovations – which seem to be aimed at addressing the issue of missing bums on stadium seats – for this season.

Under the catchy slogan “Woza Nazo”, meaning “Bring it On”, the bank, together with the league and in conjunction with SuperSport, has selected a number of matches during the season to be dubbed “Absa Premiership rivalry weekends”.

These include the Soweto, Tshwane, Cape Town, Free State and Polokwane derbies.

Yesterday’s SuperSport United vs Mamelodi Sundowns match at Lucas Moripe Stadium and Baroka FC vs Polokwane City game at Peter Mokaba Stadium were to be the first of the identified derbies.

Others will be:

. Cape Town rivalry – Ajax vs Cape Town City; Cape Town Stadium (September 30).

. Soweto derby – Kaizer Chiefs vs Orlando Pirates; FNB Stadium (October 28).

. Free State rivalry – Bloemfontein Celtics v Free State Stars; Dr Molemela Stadium (December 9).

The Chippa United vs Sundowns game, pencilled in for November 25 at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, will be marketed as a “David vs Goliath rivalry”.

Speaking at the event that marked the renewal of the partnership this week, PSL chairman Dr Irvin Khoza said:

“The last 10 years of this partnership have demonstrated that for a relationship to enjoy longevity, both sides must have common goals that glue them together.

"As we renew for a further five years, we would like to thank Absa for their trust and confidence in the PSL as the best vehicle for their message to millions of people.

“As we continue with the sponsorship, we do know that for this partnership to remain impactful it cannot be business as usual; we have to continuously innovate to remain relevant. We are, therefore, excited about some of the innovations coming up in the 2017/18 season including the Absa Premiership rivalry weekends.”

With the PSL coming of age – 21 years old – and celebrating 10 years of the Absa and SuperSport partnership, it is indeed the beginning of a new era.

It has been a jolly ride for the fans, save for a few hitches and ugly scenes here and there.

Read more on:    absa  |  bidvest wits  |  psl  |  soccer


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