PSL, invest in quality of game

VAR would be welcome introduction to cash-flush soccer organisation

So the PSL has become a billion-rand industry for the first time since its formation in 1996.

Good news indeed, but I just hope this milestone translates into a much-improved product in terms of the football
we watch. Making the ground-breaking revelation at the PSL’s annual general meeting, chairman Irvin Khoza said the record revenue of the league for the 2018/19 financial year was R1.05-billion, to be precise.

It is an increase from the R938-million posted in the 2017/18 financial year‚ and R884-million from three seasons ago. The increase has been attributed to the renewal of the broadcast contract with MultiChoice because the deal “makes a high percentage of the PSL’s income stream”.

Khoza also revealed that besides the new financial benchmark making it possible for the PSL to increase the monthly grants for the 16 teams in the premier division and the 16 in the first division from next season, refereeing and VAR were on top of their list.

I’m glad that Khoza touched on the contentious issue of refereeing standards and the introduction of video assistant referees but was quick to point out that it was not in the PSL’s ambit but the league was prepared to engage Safa on both issues.

Both the PSL and Safa have yet to state whether the introduction of VAR is feasible and they can afford such technology.

Although the details of the increase in club grants for both leagues were not spelled out, the grant for Premier League clubs could increase from R1.5-million a month to well over R2-mllion from next season.

This deserves a round of applause.

This brings us to the issue of the quality of football we watch week in and week out. If it is raining money in the PSL, which I cannot doubt because I’m not an accountant, why are we fed poor and amateurish football at every match?

No doubt the latest monetary figures ensure that the Premiership is the richest league on the continent. As the structure in charge of professional football in this country, they should ensure players receive decent salaries as an incentive to dish out quality football because money is no longer an issue.

As the PSL has made it a point that they are running a financially viable organisation, they should also ensure the product is professional. It’s good to make money but how it is invested could be a different matter.

The quality of football on the pitches, where money is made in the form of gate takings by the clubs, leaves much to be desired.

Last week Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane cried foul about the drainage system at Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium in Durban when they met Golden Arrows in torrential rain during a league match.

Put aside the assertion that Mosimane was being a crybaby because he lost. The Durban stadium is not the only football venue with a poor drainage system and all these stadiums have been used for as long as the PSL was formed 23 years ago. I know the old excuse is that clubs don’t own stadiums, so they are not responsible for their upkeep.

Attendances have been dwindling at an alarming rate in the past years due to the low standard of soccer we are being fed, an exception, of course, being the Soweto derby.

Many have argued that the poor football we are witnessing is a huge factor affecting attendances. I agree. Many a South African football supporter would rather gloat about the calibre of football in the English Premier League rather than our own Premiership.

By Xolile Mtshazo

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