PSL falls in line and suspends football

The PSL announced on Thursday that the league will remain suspended until further notice. The decision comes a day after SA Football Association president Danny Jordaan made clear that there will not be a ball kicked in the country before April 4 at the earliest.

After a protracted gathering at OR Tambo airport, the board of governors resolved that holding off on fixtures for the time being would be in the best interest of players, staff and fans. No date of return has been agreed on but the league ideally would like to have everything wrapped up by June 30.

“The National Soccer League values the lives of all our people,” the PSL said. “We view the health and safety of our players, staff and stakeholders as paramount.

“Whilst our intention is to complete the season by no later than 30th June 2020, because of the existing uncertainties in our country we shall remain flexible.”

The announcement comes at the end of a week filled with subtle political wrangling over the control of football in South Africa. Since President Cyril Ramaphosa’s national address on the Covid-19 pandemic on Sunday evening, the idea of closed-door football has been floated and even approved by Sports, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa. Safa, meanwhile, has made clear it is vehemently against the idea and on Wednesday declared that football will be suspended – insisting it has the final say.

The PSL statement continued: “The board of governors has mandated the executive committee and the appointed task team to take all possible measures to ensure that the NSL’s leagues resume in compliance with the directives issued by the State President with the support and alignment of the National Government.

The PSL’s stance is in keeping with the strategies adopted by many other leagues around the world. Extensions beyond June 30 are universally seen as a nightmare scenario because it is the end of almost all contracts agreed in world football. Fifa, however, did state on Wednesday that it has appointed a working team to interrogate the possibility of adjusting standard player registration periods.

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Luke Feltham

Luke Feltham runs the Mail & Guardian's sports desk. He was previously the online day editor.

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