OPINION: Doubts remain over the PSL restart
On June 30 the curtains were expected to officially fall on the 2019/2020 season. But it appears that won’t be the case, considering there are still 107 matches that haven’t been played following the outbreak of the coronavirus three months ago.
World football governing body Fifa is aware of the predicament, and leagues worldwide have been permitted to extend the conclusion of their respective leagues beyond the normal schedule and clubs are allowed to negotiate with outgoing players to stay until the season is completed.
Early in May, the German Bundesliga was the first league to play under the protocols of the “new normal”, playing behind closed doors. In recent weeks, the Spanish La Liga and English Premiership were two elite leagues in Europe to follow suit.
Given that the Bundesliga will wrap up their season today with Bayern Munich having already been crowned champions, and that the La Liga and English Premier League announced they would open their respective transfer windows after their seasons conclude on July 19 and 26, the three leagues won’t have sleepless nights about June 30.
But what will happen to the PSL season from Tuesday midnight remains a mystery as the executive committee didn’t appear to have come to a unanimous decision about the restart and conclusion of the season last Thursday. That was despite the government approving the league's proposed “biological safe environment” method for the resumption of football.
“Dear Colleagues. Hope you are well. Please note that today’s EXCO has been adjourned. There is another meeting next week. We will keep you in the loop as soon as there is a clear directive and position from the League,” an unofficial statement on the PSL Info Centre on WhatsApp from one of the senior officials in the league read, last Thursday.
“We thank you once again for your patience during these difficult times. I know you want comments and reactions but it’s important that we speak when we have something tangible to report back.”
The PSL have two days to wipe off the uncertainty that looms on Tuesday night.
It might have done clubs and players a world of good had the league followed in the footsteps of EPL or La Liga and declared that the transfer window would open when the season was concluded or declared completed.
While clubs and players will have to adhere to the regulations of the executive committee, discerning supporters will be concerned whether their clubs will finish the season “with that utility player” who’s on his way out.
On the other hand, another discerning supporter wouldn’t be happy for his team to be put off the rails by a player who’ll join them next season, considering that it’s a dog eat dog phase in the league right now.
That’s why this brings us to the George Maluleka issue. He is registered as a Kaizer Chiefs player, having played his part in Amakhosi leading the title-chasing pack. However, Maluleka’s immediate future is up in the air after he signed a pre-contract deal with Mamelodi Sundowns, who are second on the log standings, four points behind Chiefs and with a game in hand.
Midfielder Maluleka will close his chapter at Chiefs having been one of the players that inspired the club to be title contenders this season, having registered five assists in 19 league appearances.
When the news broke early this year that he won’t be renewing his contract at Chiefs, instead joining title rivals Sundowns, many Amakhosi faithful deemed that as sabotage by the Pretoria giants, believing that the Brazilians were looking to destabilise the Amakhosi's momentum.
Sundowns would still be able to unveil “Mido” when the transfer window officially opens, but it remains to be seen whether they will let him finish the season at Chiefs, who are chasing their first league title in five seasons, or bring the midfielder to Chloorkop earlier.
Interestingly enough, things are as tight at the basement of the log standings as they are at the top.
Basement dwellers Black Leopards are three points adrift of 13th position, which guarantees safety, while successive straight wins in the last six matches could even put them in a top eight position.
It is for such reasons that everyone, from the superiors in the league and clubs, hope that the league is concluded and rightful champions are crowned, while rightful palookas are relegated.
And considering there’s still a lot at stake in the race for championship honours, top-eight finish and to stay afloat, no one can fault the discerning supporter who’s keen to know which players clubs will keep or release on Tuesday midnight.