The Premier Soccer League (PSL) boss Irvin Khoza held a press conference confirming the return of domestic football in South Africa.
The official return date is scheduled for Saturday, 8 August with the Nedbank Cup semi-finals between Mamelodi Sundowns and Bidvest Wits.
The Absa Premiership will return three days later with a midweek kick-off on Tuesday, 11 August – a full fixture list will be revealed in the coming days.
South African officials voted Monday to restart the 2019/20 season on Saturday, 8 August after it was halted in March by the coronavirus.
An official involved in the online decision-making meeting told AFP that the 2019/2020 campaign would conclude on 5 September.
The remaining 54 league matches will be played behind closed doors in Gauteng.
Gauteng is the epicentre of the pandemic in South Africa but the national association says health protocols will ensure there is only a “one percent chance” of anyone being infected.
By last Sunday, South Africa had confirmed 445,433 Covid-19 cases and 6,769 deaths, making it the country most affected by the disease in the continent.
Before the 11 August league resumption, the Nedbank Cup semi-finals between Mamelodi Sundowns and Bidvest Wits and Baroka and Bloemfontein Celtic will be held three days earlier on Saturday, 8 August.
11 matches in 29 days
Sundowns and Wits have nine league fixtures each to play – the most among the 16 clubs – meaning whoever wins the semi-final must play 11 matches in 29 days.
Were Sundowns or Wits to play every third day they would need 31 days, two more than allocated, to complete their league and cup schedule.
The decision to restart a season suspended in March by Covid-19 was a relief to Absa, one of the five major South African banks, whose contract expires when this season ends.
“We trusted that the PSL (Premier Soccer League) would do everything in their power to complete their season,” said Absa managing executive David Wingfield.
Television rights holders SuperSport will also welcome the decision to resume as Premiership matches attract large audiences.
There are 54 league matches to play plus the semi-finals and final of the Nedbank Cup, the South African equivalent of the FA Cup.
Kaizer Chiefs, winners of a record 53 domestic competitions but seeking a first trophy in five seasons, are the league leaders with a four-point advantage over Mamelodi Sundowns.
But 2016 African champions Sundowns have one match in hand as they seek a third consecutive title and a record-extending 10th overall.
At the other end of the table, only seven points separate seven clubs in the battle to avoid relegation, and the dire financial consequences it brings.
While the club finishing last in the Premiership pocket R440,000, the second division champions receive only R300,000.
- The South African Football Association (SAFA) has welcomed the decision to restart the Premier Soccer League.
- Danny Jordaan, chairperson of SAFA says that 8 August, the days scheduled for soccer’s return will be “all systems go”.
- The PSL was suspended in March as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The South African Football Association (SAFA) has welcomed the return of soccer in South Africa after it was announced on Monday that the Premier Soccer League would restart on 8 August.
SAFA president, Danny Jordaan said the season, suspended in March as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, could now come to a “fair conclusion”.
“I would like to thank the National Soccer League (NSL) chairman and the entire board of governors for helping put this matter to rest,” said Jordaan in a statement on the SAFA website.
“We will now witness the ultimate and fair conclusion to the current and unique season and I am sure the football loving fans can’t wait for football to resume again.”
Jordaan said the Covid-19 pandemic had put soccer in the country to a definitive test but he was happy that most of those challenges were overcome.
“The match officials are getting into peak fitness and come 8 August, it will be all systems go,” concluded Jordaan.
Premier Soccer League (PSL) chairperson Irvin Khoza has confirmed that a return to competitive action will take place in Gauteng, with the province to serve as a bio-safe environment.
However, the soccer boss stressed that a proposed return date is yet to be agreed on.
Khoza confirmed that the PSL’s initially selected date of 18 July would be discussed with the South African Football Association (SAFA).
Khoza added that to complete the remaining fixtures, including Nedbank Cup matches would require a period of six weeks while clarifying that no official date was proposed by the league.
“What we have done as a practice is we have submitted the dates, which we have not made public,” Khoza said.
“We have not released a date in public and if there’s been any date in public it is not our date because as the PSL we’ve never officially announced a date.
“What I am saying is that we’ve submitted the dates to SAFA, that’s what we usually do we submit fixture dates to SAFA and what is happening is they’ve taken that information to the compliance officers for discussion.”
Khoza added that if any team were to be hit with a high number of positive Covid-19 cases they would be allowed to call up players from their MutliChoice Diski team.
All football-related activities ground to a halt on 16 March – with no live action for nearly four months – in reaction to the impending threat of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Gauteng will now likely play host to all 32 PSL clubs, consisting of the 16 top-flight Absa Premiership teams and 16 GladAfrica Championship teams.
Training venues submitted by the PSL are: Marks Park, Wanderers, St Stithians, Fourways High, Johannesburg Stadium, Ruimsig Stadium, Auckland Park Bunting (UJ), Chris Hani Stadium (UJ), Loftus Versveld, the University of Pretoria, Pilditch Stadium, TUT Stadium, Germiston Stadium and Vosloorus Stadium.
Competitive matches will likely take place at: FNB Stadium, Orlando Stadium, Dobsonville Stadium, Rand Stadium, Makhulong Stadium, Ellis Park, Bidvest Stadium, Loftus Versveld, Lucas Moripe Stadium, University of Pretoria and Tsakane Stadium.
SAFA acting CEO Tebogo Motlanthe previously strongly criticised the PSL for announcing their intention to resume the league this weekend, explaining that August was more realistic.
Motlanthe said returning to action too soon would not give teams or match officials adequate preparation time. He added that it’s unlikely the league will resume before August.