Royal AM hold PSL hostage, play-offs again postponed
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CAPE TOWN – Renegade National First Division club (NFD) Royal AM have forced the Premier Soccer League (PSL) to postpone the promotion/relegation play-offs for a second time this week.
The play-offs were initially scheduled to start on Tuesday, but the PSL called it off.
A day later the fixtures were revised, and the opener was rescheduled for Thursday at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Gqeberha, Eastern Cape.
On Thursday afternoon, a few minutes after Thursday's scheduled 3pm starting time, the PSL informs the media via a statement that the match between hosts Chippa United and Richards Bay FC will not take place.
The PSL's statement, in part, reads: 'A legal dispute has arisen between Royal AM and the League as to whether the order granted by Nyathi AJ has been suspended as a result of the filing by the League of an application for leave to appeal Nyathi AJ's order.
'The League contends that the order has been suspended, while Royal AM contends that it has not.
'In the circumstances, the League has elected to:-
1. Postpone the start of the play-offs.
2. Seek the urgent intervention of the High Court.
'Unfortunately, that means that Richards Bay Football Club and Chippa United Football Club will not be able to play their scheduled match today.
'The risks to the completion of the season are obvious, but in view of the dispute, the League has elected to act with an abundance of caution even in extremely trying circumstances for all Member Clubs, their players, and those affected in this matter.'
The latest turn of events in this ongoing soap opera has left the PSL with egg on their faces since their executive and acting CEO Mato Madlala came out in support of Royal AM who were hell-bent on securing automatic promotion to the elite DStv Premiership.
A week ago, Judge Roland Sutherland upheld an earlier ruling by the Hilton Epstein-led SAFA Arbitration process which had awarded three points to Sekhukhune United FC. This resulted in Sekhukhune being declared NFD GladAfrica Championship winners and promotion to the Premiership.
The PSL, rather sympathetic to Royal AM’s cause then, were not happy with the outcome, and their resultant statement included a response from Madlala.
“We confirm that the NSL will be participating in the application and will be supporting the review sought by the applicant‚ albeit the NSL may seek different relief to that already sought by the applicant in the application," said Madlala.
“In other words, although cited as a respondent to the application‚ the NSL considers its position to be akin to a co-applicant‚ given the position it adopts on the merits of the review‚ and it proposes to proceed accordingly.”
At the outset of the dispute in mid-May, the PSL's Executive Committee issued a statement in which said they were not happy with its Disciplinary Committee ruling. It was also critical of the ruling.
Their statement at the time, in part, read: 'An urgent special meeting of the Executive Committee of the PSL was convened to consider the matter.
'It is the view of the League that it is not correct‚ as the arbitration ruling holds that the PSL Disciplinary Code is silent and that the Disciplinary Committee had to impose a mandatory sanction under the FIFA Disciplinary Code.'
By this time, the PSL have been driven into a corner. They need to rein in their renegade club so that play-offs can proceed in the next day or so.
If not, the consequences will be dire because the contracts of many players from the three clubs expire on June 30, and they may not be eligible to play.