THERE was a time in 1994 when Tata Madiba turned to John Major and said he needed a man to run South Africa’s professional football because it was in a mess.
At the time Major, the British Prime Minister, was in South Africa to celebrate the country’s democracy. After Madiba raised the matter, Englishman Trevor Phillips was recruited as the league CEO.
Phillips’ previous job was running Euro 1992, and he did an extraordinary job. Sponsors returned to local football. A few months later, the Premier Soccer League (PSL) came into being.
The PSL went from strength to strength. However, he pointed out it was not a job for a faint-hearted CEO: “I can’t even change the light bulb if it’s faulty, mate. I have to go through the office of the chairman (Irvin Khoza). But I’m the CEO!”
Now in 2021, the PSL has attracted a plethora of criticism. The situation has deteriorated, and clubs arrive at venues knowing the fixture will not take place. They arrive because they can claim the match points.
A team like Kaizer Chiefs have been hit hard by the pandemic and recently informed the PSL in good time that they are unable to field a team. The PSL did not inform the opponents, the television company or the match officials who all pitched up for the match.
The word is out that the PSL did not agree to postpone Chiefs’ matches. A word from an insider at Chiefs says although the PSL has acted on no-shows in the past this case is different because the PSL was informed of the situation ahead of time.
Next Kaizer Chiefs Match!— Kaizer Chiefs (@KaizerChiefs) December 10, 2021
⚽️Kaizer Chiefs vs. Sekhukhune United
🗓️Sunday 12 December 2021
📺SuperSport PSL - 202
📢Supporters are not allowed inside or just outside the stadium #Amakhosi4Life pic.twitter.com/xzhPxaLsBe
There have been precedents for teams who don’t comply because of Covid. They forfeited match points.
Then there’s a case of Cape Town City defaulting by not producing registration cards for their match against Maritzburg. The cards were reportedly stolen from an official’s car. The matter was reported to the police.
The match went ahead under protest and those who adopt a hard and fast attitude will say the law must take its course. Again, there is a precedent for a team that failed to produce cards before the match. They were let off scot-free. The PSL has not yet penalised offenders Chiefs and City for these violations but when they do, expect all hell to break loose.
All this is happening under the watch of acting CEO Mato Madlala. It has sickened league staffers Nande Becker and Michael Murphy to the extent that they resigned.
Madlala has been acting for six years, and the PSL may have decided to keep the CEO’S duties ‘in-house’ so that they can have full control. Madlala replaced Brand de Villiers in November 2015.
Madlala is the chairperson of Golden Arrows, and Khoza occupies the same position at Orlando Pirates and therein lies an inherent conflict of interest since both are PSL administrators. It is part of a fatally flawed governance model because club owners can’t govern themselves.
Currently, there is no Tata Madiba to seek help as storm clouds hover over the PSL. The PSL does have Khoza, and he is not called the ‘Iron Duke’ for nothing. He may have the answers and say to his fellow chairmen the time has come to revisit the PSL governance model and maybe look at the Swiss or the English set-up for professional football.
If he does not act, everything points to a spectacular implosion of the Premiership.