How the PSL might support thousands of security guards left destitute by lockdown

27 March 2020 - 14:34 By Marc Strydom
Fans vandalizing the stadium during the 2018 Nedbank Cup match between Kaizer Chiefs and Free State Stars at Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban on 21 April 2018.
Fans vandalizing the stadium during the 2018 Nedbank Cup match between Kaizer Chiefs and Free State Stars at Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban on 21 April 2018.
Image: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

With the Premier Soccer League’s Absa Premiership and GladAfrica Championship shut down due to the coronavirus breakout some 2‚000 stadium security guards have been left without an income.

It is unclear right now if the government assistance of a R500 tax break to employees of SMMEs applies to these workers.

I have done some sums. To provide 2‚000 stadium guard employees‚ who normally can earn R5‚000-R9‚000 per month‚ a grant in the shutdown period of R2‚000 per month will cost R4-million a month. For two months‚ that’s R8-million‚ and three months R12-million.

There are also the stadium vendors who have been left desperate by the shutdown. Perhaps a similar relief fund might be found for them.

In the midst of a global crisis never before seen where the world and South African economies have ground to a halt – SA is on a 21-day national lockdown – any assistance by the league to guards not even in their employ‚ but that of individual security companies‚ might seem unrealistic.

But TimesLIVE has come up with four ideas – purely suggestions – for how perhaps this might be achieved:

1. A benefit match

The PSL could organise a benefit match‚ once the league resumes. And not just any benefit – a Soweto derby between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates at FNB Stadium. At R100 per ticket‚ if 60‚000 fans arrived that would be R6-million. Of course there are organisational costs. Surely the PSL’s current sponsors could come on board to cover those?

2. Players deferring wages

In the UK‚ Championship side Leeds United’s players have agreed to defer their salaries currently so the club’s staff can be paid. South African professional footballers are not all paid quite so well as their English counterparts. And many‚ being from a poor background have extended families to support.

The PSL might consider a drive – a social media hashtag challenge‚ perhaps – to get some of the better-paid footballers on board who can afford it to waive their salary for two well separated months next season‚ to also help recover some of the costs. Perhaps even some of the PSL top brass and club owners might weigh in too.

3. The Carling Black Label Cup

The preseason Carling Black Label Cup between Chiefs and Pirates already has a charity component to it. Both clubs also make a considerable income from the money-spinning‚ gimmicky match where fans vote starting XIs and substitutions by SMS and internet.

Perhaps Chiefs and Pirates this year could waive their income‚ or part of it‚ from next season’s event‚ and the sponsors make some contribution too.

4. Nedbank Cup winners

Get the four teams left in the Nedbank Cup semifinals (Mamelodi Sundowns, Baroka FC, Bidvest Wits and Bloemfontein Celtic) to agree that whoever wins, once the tournament finally proceeds, will donate the R7-million prizemoney, or half of it, to the relief fund.

In Conclusion:

Surely‚ these three measures combined could cover R12-million to pay out-of-work security guards R2‚000 for three months‚ and perhaps have some extra left over to help the vendors.

Of course‚ with these ideas the PSL could only recoup their costs once football resumes. Perhaps Premiership sponsors Absa and cup sponsors Nedbank could arrange an interest-free loan in the meantime‚ and the government ensure this is all tax-free. It would be an ideal PR move‚ too‚ by the league and its sponsors in a time of crisis to show how much they care.

Of course‚ these are the suggestions of a middle-aged football scribe who can barely manage his personal finances. In Australia‚ the FA has laid off most of its staff. Things are moving so fast with this pandemic that within a week this entire story might be rendered obsolete and ridiculous.

But these are just ideas. The PSL already has a task team in place to investigate how they can resume matches behind closed doors‚ complying with government health restrictions. Perhaps another task team could be set up to investigate if there is a way to help the thousands left desperate by the shutdown of football.

And of course‚ such ideas should not just apply to football. Rugby‚ cricket‚ all the others ... here’s looking at you too‚ kids.