Will the PSL allow Black Leopards to play at Thohoyandou Stadium?

06 June 2018 - 15:47 By Mark Gleeson
General view of the Thohoyandou Stadium in Venda - the main home ground of newly promoted Black Leopards.
General view of the Thohoyandou Stadium in Venda - the main home ground of newly promoted Black Leopards.
Image: Philip Maeta/Gallo Images

Thohoyandou Stadium might be the ‘slaughter house’ that could give newly promoted Black Leopards a massive advantage in the Absa Premiership next seaon but there is no guarantee the promotion-relegation play-off winners are going to be allow to play there when the new campaign kicks off in August.

The stadium‚ which has had sections previously condemned‚ faces a vigorous inspection by the Premier Soccer League in the coming weeks before Leopards are allowed to continue using it as their home ground.

Although the stadium was used for all Leopards’ games in their successful National First Division campaign‚ there will be a much more stringent criteria placed on its safety and facilities if it is to be used in the top-flight in the coming season.

The stadium must not only have a compliance certificate from local authorities but it must also fulfill the demanding criteria of the PSL's compliance manual‚ said the league’s chief operations officer Ronnie Schloss on Wednesday.

Schloss carries out vigorous inspections of all venues.

He is a former building science professor at Wits University and widely recognised as an international expert on stadium constriction and safety.

“The criteria in the top league is more stringent than in the National First Division and we check everything from floodlights‚ to the change rooms‚ showers and mostly importantly the structure of the stadium‚” he told TimesLIVE.

“Even the size of the playing field is carefully measured because some coaches like to change the dimensions depending on who they are playing against.”

Thohoyandou Stadium has an official capacity of 28 000 but the PSL are unlikely to allow more than 18 000 into each game for safety reasons.

It is one of the few venues in South African professional football where a capacity crowd can be expected for each game.

This past season‚ Leopards‚ who finished second in the NFD‚ won 11 of 15 games at the venue and lost only twice – to runaway NFD champions Highlands Park and to Cape Town All Stars in mid-January.

After that loss‚ Leopards won nine successive games at the Thohoyandou Stadium‚ including beating Platinum Stars and Jomo Cosmos in the play-offs.