Hopefully sometime today we will be seeing fixtures for the coming season published by the PSL. Around the world all the other leagues that are starting in August have had fixtures available for many weeks now. Season tickets are printed and supporters are eagerly anticipating the first few fixtures. Supporters plan their weekends, holidays and business trips around the fixture list – some even plan whole family events, including weddings.
So it is frustrating to still be waiting for the PSL. We know the league met at the end of June and among other business finalised the fixtures. Since then some news has slipped out. Orlando Pirates published their fixtures and last Friday Cape Town City announced their first game would be at the stadium on August 23rd. Their initial advert did not state who they were playing and no tickets have gone on sale, but they went ahead and advertised it anyway.
We are all excited at the prospect of the PSL starting up again. News is filtering through of training camps, good performances in warm up games and of course a clutch of exciting new signings. Sadly our league administration is lagging behind. It is especially worrying when you consider the reason these fixtures are arriving so late.
It is no secret that a consortium led by ANC MEC for Education Panyaza Lesufi has been attempting to resurrect Moroka Swallows by buying out Free State Stars. The precedent has been set by the PSL when they allowed John Comitis to kill off Mpumalanga Black Aces and create his new plaything in Cape Town. The new swallows club would however take the buying of football clubs in the PSL to new depths. Journalist Neal Collins has repeatedly produced FIFA and NSL documents showing that the “buying of promotion” is illegal in modern football, and has been out-lawed since 2007. Nobody in authority seems to care. Still the PSL has pushed on, despite the potential for FIFA sanctions against our league.
Look at who has benefitted from this mess. Thanks to John Comitis Orlando Pirates have a new coach in Muhsin Etrugral, who they took from the defunct Black Aces for no compensation. Now they have done the same to Free State Stars by taking three stars players (Justice Chabalala‚ Sello Japhta and Ayanda Nkosi) for no fee. With Dr Irvin Khoza chairman of both Pirates and the PSL it is no wonder these shady deals are being rubber stamped, despite the huge risk to our local football. In the meantime, we must wait for all this madness to be sorted out before we can even be told who we are playing this season.
It seems that some sanity has prevailed with the announcement on Friday that the Moroka Swallows deal was officially off. The buyers failed to come up with the funds on time. Hopefully there will be no extensions or other interested buyers coming in and we can now have some fixtures released. They will feature a game against Free State Stars of course. Stars are now a team that has been asset stripped and can barely field a first eleven. Before a ball has even been kicked the relegation zone could already have been settled. Or maybe Orlando Pirates will return all the players they stole from them!
We are looking forward to a grudge match against Cape Town City this season, but our real grudge should be against Orlando Pirates. Their owner is harming our local football by rubber stamping these deals for the benefit of his own team. Just to rub our faces in it even more, it his club’s supporters that have been given their fixtures weeks ago, while we are forced to keep waiting.