Cape Town - It used to be known as rent-a-crowd when soccer administrators came up with various schemes to boost attendances at deserted stadiums.
Now after brushing up the process with an assortment of ingenious gimmicks and incentives, the PSL calls it marketing and makes no bones about the motivation of these innovations to draw the crowds.
And no better example of this type of marketing has surfaced than the recent MTN8 final at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban in which SuperSport United shaded Cape Town City via a 5-3 penalty shoot-out advantage after a 1-1 stalemate.
Advertised as a means of rewarding loyal spectators with "an unprecedented experience" as a reward for their dedication and support, but in reality it was meant to ensure a respectable crowd and maintain an ongoing interest in the proceedings that the sponsors consider as paramount to justify their financial input.
"There are different degrees of marketing," conceded one top PSL official. "Some games and events require more motivation than others. Some hardly require any marketing."
This was not the case when SuperSport and Cape Town City emerged a little unexpectedly as the MTN8 finalists, with the former boasting only a meagre support base in spite of a commendable record of success and the latter's appeal still insularly based in Cape Town at this stage of the club's development.
So with the real prospect of the final becoming an attendance white elephant, the PSL and the tournament sponsors attached a pop concert onto the day's proceeding, handed out free air time to MTN cell holders and kept admission at a modest R40 for adults.
It worked well with more than 20 000 spectators turning up to the game when only half the number might have been present without the inflated attractions.
And so it was not surprising the PSL also elevated the process further when launching the coming Telkom Knockout tournament this week, with R1 million available to spectators from a contrived goal-scoring competition and purchased data bundles increasing in value according to the number of goals scored in each of the four rounds of the competition.
Meanwhile, the PSL did find space to mention in the Telkom Knockout release that there would be soccer as well to spice up the proceedings!