OPINION: Clubs need fans in order to survive, Mr President
DURBAN - It is just mind-boggling that the masses in South Africa are allowed to go to malls, beaches and cinemas, but spectators are still prohibited from attending football matches at stadiums.
The new PSL season is set to kick-off next month, and President Cyril Ramaphosa didn’t say anything about fans coming back into stadiums, even though we are now at level one. Obviously, I’m not saying that the coronavirus is now over. The pandemic is still around, and it is important to be cautious and adhere to Covid-19 regulations.
The government has done a wonderful job of flattening the curve. But if people are allowed to go to restaurants, bars, cinemas and attending ceremonies, why can’t they allow at least 50% of the spectators at football matches?
Gate-takings are very important for football clubs, especially during blockbuster encounters.
It is high time our government starts to understand that football is not just a form of recreation, but also a business. When football supporters attend matches, the government also benefits in so many ways.
Hotels generate revenue from people who are coming from different provinces to attend matches. The transport sector benefits as well. More job opportunities are created when people attend football matches.
The sport is a major contributor to the GDP of South Africa.
Can you imagine the loss that Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates will make if the Soweto Derby is played without spectators?
These two clubs make over R5-million through gate-takings during the Soweto Derby.
Small clubs make more money when they host the likes of Chiefs, Mamelodi Sundowns and Pirates.
Playing behind closed doors will be detrimental financially for many clubs. Already some clubs made a huge loss as the league finished in a bio-bubble. But it was understandable at that time. The PSL wanted to finish the season, and the number of Covid-19 cases were escalating. It was a very difficult time. But the risk of people attending football matches is identical to that of people going to malls, bars and cinemas.
Football is also a business.
That is very important to understand. I hope that by the time we get to November, at least half-capacity of spectators will be allowed to attend matches.
What is worrying is the fact that in townships, people are behaving like there is no lockdown and our government is not doing anything about that.