Jonty Mark

By Jonty Mark

Football Editor

Safa – PSL delay is about more than just the referees

The South African Football Association say the fitness of referees is only one of the issues stopping the resumption of the 2019/20 Premier Soccer League season.

The PSL had hoped to start the campaign again this weekend with the Nedbank Cup semifinals, with the season postponed since mind-March, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

However, PSL plans were scuppered when Safa issued a statement that said the season could only restart in the first week of August.

One reason cited by Safa was that their referees needed at least two weeks to get ready for the resumption. Safa control the refereeing in South Africa, and PSL chairman Irvin Khoza conceded on Monday that the decision to restart ultimately lay with the national federation.

“The delay is not because of referees, referees are just part of the fixture (delay),” Safa CEO Advocate Tebogo Motlanthe told Phakaaathi on Thursday.

“There are still outstanding compliance issues, in terms of …. Clubs (only) submitting letters to the NSL compliance officer Michael Murphy. Safa has our own two compliance officers and they are supposed to exchange information so we are satisfied with compliance in terms of the government gazette. Safa would be liable for any violation (of the gazetted rules).”

Safa’s two compliance officers are Dr Thulani Ngwenya and Mlungisi Ncame, and Motlanthe said they would be meeting with Murphy, while a meeting also needs to take place, he said, between all parties and the Director General of the Ministry of Sport, Vusumusi Mkhize.

The government has already allowed PSL teams to return to training under lockdown Level 3, but a return to play is proving more complicated.

“The league says they have a letter (from government) in terms of a return to play and return to training, but there is some concern over what is gazetted,” added Motlanthe.

The PSL intend to resume the season in Gauteng, in a Biologically Safe Environment (BSE), with a detailed report submitted to government by a joint Safa/PSL taskforce on how this can work, in terms of containing the coronavirus.

They have already sent a list of 14 training venues and 11 match venues, all in Gauteng to Safa, but are now waiting for the association to sign off any agreement.

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