Khoza smooths over PSL problems

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PSL chairman Irvin Khoza celebrates during the launch of the MTN8.

Premier Soccer League chairman Irvin Khoza on Tuesday moved to allay fears that the league faces a sponsorship crisis, toasting to a new three-year deal with cellphone giants MTN while also adding he expected Absa to sign a new partnership with the league.

Khoza was in a fiery mood as he dismissed as “nonsense” suggestions that the long delay in renewing the league’s backers for the new season, which kicks off with the MTN8 on Friday, had anything to do with the amount of money requested by the PSL.

“We had to find the right time to make this announcement. We presented to MTN on the 23rd of May and they came back to us on June 7,” said Khoza who, in his prepared statement singled out two publications – including The Star – for rebuke.

“We had a challenge that the market was cluttered. MTN had the Manchester United tour and immediately thereafter it was the Carling Cup. So we felt we needed to hold back to ensure there’s proper coverage.”

However, it is understood the deal hadn’t been signed until late last week, when MTN finally got approval from their board.

Details of the deal were not immediately revealed as Khoza cited a PSL board of governors meeting on Wednesday morning. “The amount of money involved will be known after the BoG meeting. We will make it public knowledge. The format of the competition and prize money are not going to change, unless the executive decides otherwise.”

For the past four years, winners of the MTN8 have pocketed R8-million, with losing teams getting R800 000 as a participating fee. The competition begins with this weekend’s quarter-finals, while the semi-finals will once again be a two-legged, home-and-away affair.

While it is known that MTN paid the PSL nearly R30-million for the 2011 edition, the company’s chief marketing officer Serame Taukobong refused to divulge details of the new deal. “There has been improvement on the offer, aligned with the value of the property, but I will not divulge commercial values,” Taukobong said.

Khoza, meanwhile, merely said that the money the PSL had asked for was “reasonable”.

“The amount of money (MTN made) in the last competition was way more than what we asked for. We believe that we have been more than reasonable, taking into consideration the state of the economy.”

On the Absa deal, which officially lapsed on Tuesday, Khoza stated unequivocally that the PSL would try to retain the bank as title sponsors of the Premiership, which is set to kick off next weekend.

“It’s important that we keep them. We have done very well with them on board,” Khoza said, adding everything should be finalised after Wednesday’s BoG, including fixtures for the upcoming season.

The MTN8 games, however, were finalised as soon as the final whistle sounded in the previous campaign, with defending champions Orlando Pirates taking on Bloemfontein Celtic at Orlando Stadium.

MTN quarter-finals

Friday: Pirates v Celtic, Orlando, 8pm

Saturday: SuperSport United v Free State Stars, Peter Mokaba Stadium, 3pm

Sunday: Mamelodi Sundowns v Kaizer Chiefs, Loftus Versfeld, 3pm; Moroka Swallows v AmaZulu, Dobsonville, 3pm

Semi-finals (first leg): August 18 and 19; second leg: August 25 and 26

Final: September 22


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