JOHANNESBURG – The NFD’s financial woes are now a thing of the past thanks to a cash injection South Africa’s second-tier league will now enjoy from new sponsors GladAfrica.
The deal was announced yesterday by PSL Chairman Irvin Khoza following a Board of Directors’ meeting in Johannesburg.
The league will now be called the GladAfrica Championship for the next five years after GladAfrica Group, the consultancy firm that with its fingers in engineering and project management, became the first division’s first sponsor since Mvelaphanda pulled out in 2007.
Suddenly, instead of merely playing for promotion to the PSL, NFD teams now stand to swell their bank accounts with a massive R3 million. The runners-up will pocket half of that, while the team that finishes third will get R1m.
That’s a substantial improvement from the R300 000 that Stellenbosch FC received for winning the NFD title in May.
But the change in prize money and title name will not affect the format of the first division, from the Under-23 rule to the structure of how teams get promoted.
The PSL promotion/relegation playoffs will remain as they currently are, but Khoza hinted that they might change.
The current playoffs format - pitting the 15th-place team in the PSL with the teams that finish second and third in the NFD - has been heavily criticised by NFD teams who also sit on the PSL’s Board of Governor’s where rules are passed. NFD teams have been calling for first and second place to be promoted automatically with 15th and 16th going down from the PSL.
“The premier division is sponsoring the first division,” Khoza said. “No way in business do you sponsor your competition. There is no rule in the PSL rules that says you must give clubs money.
Understanding the anomaly of our situation, we came up with the grant issue to assist clubs in the first division and ensure that there is quality. But if they attract a sponsor with money, and they are a stand-alone, then they can have that privilege of automatic promotion. But you can’t get someone’s money and then you compete against them and they are disadvantaged. It can’t be fair.”
The financial injection from this sponsorship will help the first division lose the tag of the unwanted step brother. Without a sponsor, the NFD was forced to play second fiddle to the PSL.
This sponsorship could go a long way to changing that.