PSL statuses changing hands saving or killing SA football?

PSL chairman Irvin Khoza has been overseeing more club status transfers than actual football transformation in recent times. | BackpagePix

PSL chairman Irvin Khoza has been overseeing more club status transfers than actual football transformation in recent times. | BackpagePix

Published Jun 30, 2024


THE selling and buying of Premier Soccer League (PSL) statuses has become an all too familiar pattern in South African football of late.

The frequency or the nature of these multi-million rand transactions has raised huge debate and discussion throughout the land, equalled by a similar degree of emotions.

This past week saw what may be the final demise of Soweto giant royalty in Moroka Swallows, whose DStv Premiership status was sold to Marumo Gallants’ owner Abram Sello.

Bahlabane Ba Ntwa, who were relegated to the Motsepe Foundation Championship at the end of the 2022/2023 campaign will now play in the top flight next season and will move the club to Bloemfontein.

Dube Birds chairman David Mogashoa had been very vocal about the club’s financial troubles this past season, with players going on strike at some point because of unpaid salaries.

The Irvin Khoza-led PSL has seen seven top flight clubs relinquish their existence in the elite level of South African football, largely due to financial incapability.

Bidvest Wits (Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila -TTM), Highlands Park (TS Galaxy), Mpumalanga Black Aces (Cape Town City), Thanda Royal Zulu (AmaZulu), TTM (Gallants), Bloemfontein Celtic (Royal AM) and now Moroka Swallows (Gallants) have all facilitated the dreaded transaction and have left differing tastes in people’s mouths.

Given the emotions of loyal supporters of these football entities, it is perhaps a sensitive period to question whether the buying and selling of statuses is actually saving or killing South African football.

Well, surprisingly enough, both statements can be true and false at the same time.

This now common but controversial trend saw the demise of 99-year-old Wits, and the burial of 73-year-old Moroka Swallows while rebranded versions of Celtic and Highlands ply their trade in the ABC Motsepe League.

In essence, one would not be completely misguided or mistaken to feel the loss of heritage and romanticism football fans love about the beautiful game.

For example, all those who are swayed by the memorable moments of the revered Siwelele chants will ponder about a future where they’ll be able to pass on those stories to the next generation in Bloemfontein.

The resale of historically rich clubs is certainly one that kills the sentiment of loyalty and nostalgia that has held clubs together for centuries all over the world.

However, from a financial point of view, it could also be valid that the emergence of various individuals looking to invest in troubled entities whilst saving the livelihoods of several families is also saving South African football.

For several years, DStv Premiership clubs have been questioned about their administration and that stems largely from clubs having financial struggles.

The best leagues in the world are ones that have continuous investments and although the names remain, the changes of ownership also occur in that space.

Much like any other business in the world, and as much as it may damage club heritage, South African football is desperate for financial upliftment.