Football in South Africa mirrors the dire direction in which the country and its society are moving.
The sport has become so skewed in favour of the rich that the Premier Soccer League (PSL) could well reach a stage – if it hasn’t already – where the other clubs are just there to make up the numbers.
There is much that is good about the PSL. It has, in recent years, become more professional, the administration is smooth, the on-field quality is improving, salaries have increased, more clubs are committed to youth development, and, overall, it is a product that is definitely on the up.
Two aspects, however, demand some discussion and introspection: the announcement that Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs will be getting R1-billion over five years from Vodacom, and the inequality at the root of the promotion play-offs.
It’s a reflection of the widening chasm between the haves and have-nots – in SA society and its football.
The play-offs kick off on Wednesday when Thanda Royal Zulu host Santos in Richards Bay (2pm), but the three-team mini-league only finishes on June 23. In essence, it gives the club securing a spot in the PSL a little more than a month to prepare for the new season.
Santos, second last on the PSL log, join Chippa United and Thanda, second and third in the First Division, in the race for a place in the top-flight next season. But it’s the time factor that needs to be examined. Surely, when the fixtures are decided upon for the next campaign, and in the future, then the PSL has to make provision for this.
For example, in England, where there are a lot more teams involved, everything is already done and dusted. Everybody knows who was promoted and relegated.
Here, in the PSL, we know Jomo Cosmos are relegated, and First Division champions University of Pretoria are promoted to the PSL.
But, and here’s the catch, there’s still a month’s action left to determine which other team is either relegated and promoted.
There’s some seriously wrong with the timing. – Cape Argus