Mon, 10 Aug 2020

From the outset the PSL and SAFA have been at loggerheads regarding when and how to resume the 2019/2020 season.

A power struggle between the two parties threatened to bubble to the surface and it needed Minister of Arts, Culture and Sports, Nathi Mthethwa to make clear that SAFA were the controlling body in the matter.

Since it was made clear who was in charge, all club appointed compliance officers were to report to SAFA's head of compliance Dr Thulani Ngwenya to ensure clubs were adhering to protocol.

As if in a game of chess between the two, the PSL next sought to unilaterally inform SAFA of its intention to announce 18 July as a resumption date with Gauteng as host. Check.

There was little to no time for allocated compliance officers to travel to all the 32 PSL teams to compile a report regarding the adherence of teams to protocols.

SAFA's counter move was to threaten to not provide match officials - who are controlled by the governing body - for the return of competitive matches.

With no referees, no games can be held. Check mate?

This has now caused PSL chairperson Irvin Khoza to backtrack somewhat and look to distance the PSL from the proposed 18 July return date by making clear that they had never officially announced a date.

Khoza has also confirmed that they were locked in a meeting on Monday with SAFA compliance officers in an attempt to reach an agreement to verify the proposed fixture schedule list.

The overriding motivation for the PSL to bulldoze towards a return date is financially driven.

When reached for comment Ngwenya told Sport24 that they have started the process of verifying the compliance of PSL teams. They have not yet finalised full compliance, but were making "good progress".

Many clubs have been heavily impacted by the financial shortfall of not staging any live matches. As much as 70% of the 16 Absa Premiership sides would struggle to survive.

The PSL monthly grant of R2.5 million that each club receives in TV money from rights holder SuperSport also came to an end on 30 June. There is, as a result, a desperation to resume live action.

Perhaps it is this desperation that has led to the PSL attempting to sweep Covid-19 test results under the carpet with reports circulating of high counts of positive test results from within teams.

This goes against competition integrity and transparency as there is no requirement by the media to reveal identities, with an emphasis placed only on test numbers.

So far, Kaizer Chiefs, Bloemfontein Celtic, Orlando Pirates and Stellenbosch FC have all confirmed positive Covid-19 results - with seven cases in total from players and staff.

Cape Town City are the only side to have announced their test results - with zero positive cases - with no other announcements despite all PSL teams having returned to contact training.

With these latest developments, the PSL's resumption still has more questions than answers.

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