For a league that purports itself to be the best on the African continent, the Premier Soccer League (PSL) still has a long way to go before it reaches world class standards.
This much was brought to light during a trip to both England and Spain last week where I attended a number of matches.
Granted, just about every fan will know that in terms of what transpires on the pitch we are miles behind most. But that is not only where we are lacking.
For a number of years we have lamented the poor attendances at our stadiums, with many blaming the poor fare dished out on our fields as a reason.
Lately though, it has become clear that the live broadcast of matches is a big contributor to fans not going to matches. After all, why should I spent an afternoon at the stadium for one match when I can stay at home, have a braai with mates and watch no less than four, if not more, live games ranging from the PSL, via EPL, to La Liga.
Aware of the television threat, the English restrict live television to the extent that only the 3pm matches are shown, and even then it is on pay-per-view television that is not accessible to everyone. And that invariably forces the fans to go to the stadiums.
Another way, which I’ve long advocated for here but which - as with many of the suggestions I, and most of my colleagues in the soccer industry, have been proffering for year - always falls on deaf ears, is season ticketing.
No doubt our club bosses, most of whom are well travelled, know that clubs in England - and most of Europe - sell season tickets to their fans. That way, there is a guaranteed presence of fans at the stadiums, for home matches in particular.
Of course the difference here is that while clubs in England own stadiums, ours here lease from municipalities.
The advantages of season tickets are numerous. For one, the fans will not have to fork out money every weekend to go to a game as they would have ‘died’ once at the beginning of the season.
Another pro for season-ticketing is that each fan has a guaranteed seating place. Such an arrangement will go a long way towards alleviating the risks of stampedes.
When you know you are going to find your seat waiting for you, as is the case in the EPL and La Liga, you will always go to the right gate and never be hurried to get into the venue anywhere, and as quickly as possible, so you get the ‘best seat’.
Another impressive aspect from the trip was to see how the stadiums overseas were family friendly, with dads bringing their young sons and even daughters to the matches - confident in the knowledge that they are unlikely to have to protect their kids from rowdy or dagga-smoking fans.
Of course they have hooligans and ultras, but those ones have their designated area in the stadiums and just about every fan knows not to go there. In any case, those seats belong to those loud, crazy fans throughout the season.
Kaizer Chiefs went the season tickets route a number of years back when they used to play at the Johannesburg Stadium and the system worked like a charm. Surely it is about time they and the rest of the PSL went this route.
It just makes sense.