Soccer bodies exchange vitriol over promotion

Johannesburg – The ongoing GladAfrica Championship promotion feud has now resulted in an altercation between the Premier Soccer League (PSL) and the South African Football Association (Safa).

On Thursday and Friday, the two football organisations exchanged heated and unsavoury letters as to how this court matter should be finalised.

Both letters were seen by Sunday World.

The PSL is in charge of the professional league while Safa is the mother body and the custodians of football in the country.

The bone of contention is that two weeks ago, Safa arbitrator advocate Hilton Epstein ruled that the PSL must award Sekhukhune United three points from their match against Polokwane City on January 2, after Polokwane City had breached the National Soccer League (NSL) Under-23 rule.

Sekhukhune’s argument is that the arbitration award handed down by the arbitrator “is final and binding on the parties to the award and that the PSL must implement the said arbitration award”.

The PSL has not allocated the three points to the Limpopo club, which could result in them overtaking log leaders Royal AM at the top of the GladAfrica Championship table, thus getting an automatic promotion to the PSL.

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In the letter that PSL lawyer Dario Milo of Webber Wentzel wrote to the Safa lawyers Edelstein Farber Grobler Incorporated, the PSL said: “We refer to the case management meeting held this morning with the deputy judge president concerning the court applications. As you know, the applications seek to review and set aside the arbitral awards made by Epstein [SC] and Cassim [SC].

“As part of the directions, the deputy judge president Roland Sutherland has directed that the parties arrange an arbitration panel to be convened for Sunday, June 13.

“The panel is to be arranged out of caution so that, in the event either or both the Epstein [SC] or Cassim [SC] award get set aside, there is a new panel available to hear and resolve both matters on an urgent basis [in case the court were to order a remittal]. This is to ensure that the play-offs can take place on June 15.

“We are instructed to request, on behalf of the NSL, that your client, Safa, take all steps necessary to have a panel appointed on an urgent basis so that our client and Safa are able to provide feedback to Sutherland.

Lesedi Mphahlele, representing Safa, wrote back to the PSL lawyers: “We refer to your letter dated 3 June, the tone of which smacks of arrogance and it further presumptuous that the arbitration award by advocate Hilton [SC] will be set aside.”

Safa CEO Tebogo Motlanthe had not responded at the time of going to print.

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