Absa Premiership

War of words as South Africa ponder PSL restart

2020-05-07 09:30
Irvin Khoza
Irvin Khoza (Getty Images)

A war of words has broken out among rival South African football organisations ahead of a meeting on Thursday to discuss the future of the 2019/20 PSL league season.

The novel coronavirus pandemic forced the suspension during March of the richest African national championship with a R15 million first prize.

The meeting will involve league officials, who are keen to complete a season in which the 16 clubs have between six and nine fixtures to fulfil.

Premiership boss Irvin Khoza says they hope to complete the season by 31 July, provided they get the go-ahead from government health officials.

"There are two conditions we have to meet before considering restarting the league - first and foremost saving lives, then preserving livelihoods by playing football," he said.

Asked if he had contacted the South African Football Association (SAFA), the supreme football body in the republic regarding a restart, Khoza replied: "No, not as yet."

There is a history of disagreements between the wealthy, efficiently run PSL and the cash-strapped SAFA, whose officials regularly create negative headlines.

Among options the Premiership are reportedly considering is playing several matches on the same day behind closed doors at neutral venues.

However, the Danny Jordaan-led SAFA say medical experts believe football should resume only when the national lockdown reaches stage one.

The five-stage lockdown is currently at level four (the second highest) and it could take many months to drop to the lowest level given the virus peak is expected only in September.

"Playing football requires travelling, including from one province to another, and that cannot be achieved under level four," a SAFA statement said.

"Another issue is the social distancing factor - football is a contact sport where we cannot social distance."

Sport minister Nathi Mthethwa has requested the PSL and SAFA to present him with a plan that health officials can consider.

"We will be dependent on SAFA, as the mother body of football in the country, and the PSL to guide government," he said.

"I have been in contact with Danny Jordaan and Irvin Khoza and said to them that I need their wise counsel regarding a possible reopening of the league."

Football followers hope the Premiership can resume soon as the stage is set for thrilling finishes to the season both at the top and bottom of the table.

Kaizer Chiefs, who have gone a record four seasons without winning a trophy, lead defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns by four points, but have played one match more.

Among the remaining fixtures is a clash between the clubs at Chiefs' ground, the 90 000-capacity FNB stadium on the border between Johannesburg and Soweto.

Only eight points separate the lowest eight clubs with the team finishing last automatically relegated and the second-last side going into playoffs with two second-tier outfits.

Read more on:    absa premiership  |  psl  |  irvin khoza  |  soccer  |  coronavirus


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