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The Premier Soccer League face a sponsorship crisis with all four of their major backers, including banking giants Absa, yet to renew contracts for the new season that kicks off next week.
This should explain why the league have still not released the fixtures for the 2012/13 campaign.
Absa, who have been the title sponsors of the Premiership for the past five years, confirmed their contract with the PSL lapses on Tuesday but could not give a definitive answer when asked if it would be renewed.
“Absa have a robust and strict process of governance regarding the assessment of sponsorships. The current contract (with the PSL) expires on the July 31, 2012. Updates will be provided in due course,” the bank said in a statement, but did not comment further.
Absa became the league’s title sponsors in 2007, signing a five-year deal worth R500-million. According to the PSL financial statement ending July 2011, the bank paid the league over R88m for that year.
But reports have surfaced recently that the bank are facing financial constraints and might look to cut back on sponsorships. An insider stated on Wednesday that Absa’s sponsorship of Bafana Bafana could also be drastically reduced. “They (Absa) were giving Bafana R50- million per year. Now it looks like they will offer only about R20m,” the source, who wouldn’t be named as negotiations are still ongoing, told The Star.
Other major sponsors of the PSL, MTN, Telkom and Nedbank, all confirmed their deals with the PSL hadn’t been renewed.
“Telkom’s contract with the PSL on the Telkom Knockout expired at the end of December 2011. (We are) still in the negotiation phase and can therefore not comment on the matter at this stage,” the telecommunications giants, who paid the PSL nearly R37m in the 2011 financial year, said.
MTN also confirmed their current deal expires on Tuesday, July 31, just three days before the annual MTN8 cup competition is due to start. The company’s chief marketing officer, Serame Taukobong, stated: “Negotiations are at an advanced stage and the PSL and MTN will announce their decision on the future of this partnership in due course.”
While the PSL have not officially released the fixtures, the MTN8 is scheduled to kick off next Friday with a clash between defending champions Orlando Pirates and AmaZulu.
A launch of the competition has provisionally been set for Monday, but it remains unclear whether a new deal will have been signed at that time. MTN are one of the PSL’s major backers, with the financials from last year showing they poured just under R30m into their coffers for that period.
Taukobong did not respond to queries on whether the MTN8 will kick off as scheduled next week, but the PSL’s Connie Motsumi said the league were confident everything would go ahead.
“We are still talking to all parties and we are only going to make an announcement once everything has been signed. We are confident that the league will kick off as scheduled with a top eight competition next week, and the Premiership on August 11,” said Motsumi, who heads communications at the PSL.
She added that it was no crisis not to have confirmed sponsors a week before the league kicks off. “A few years ago we confirmed Absa with about a week to go,” she reasoned.
Nedbank, meanwhile, said they were hopeful of reaching an agreement over a new deal. “Obviously our sponsorship of the PSL has been good to us and we’d love to continue,” said Nedbank’s head of group sponsorships Andy Scott. “We will see how negotiations go.”
In total, the four sponsors contributed nearly R210m into the PSL coffers for the financial year ending July 2011. – The Star