Royal AM clinch promotion but cannot be awarded trophy as PSL is served with court papers
There was drama on the theatrical final day of the lower tier’s season when Royal AM earned the point they needed to clinch automatic promotion on Sunday, but could not celebrate as the Pietermaritzburg-based club’s celebrations are mired in controversy around an outstanding decision related to rivals Sekhukhune United over points.
The Premier Soccer League (PSL) raised the stakes with a short statement shortly after the completion of the matches and revealed it had been served with court papers in relation to the points matter.
The PSL did not name the club that has initiated the court action.
There was more drama as the PSL statement also announced that the GladAfrica Championship trophy handover has been halted while the matter is being resolved.
On a final day filled with tension, Sekhukhune won their match against JDR Stars 3-1 at Giant Stadium in Soshanguve, but this was not enough as Royal scored a late penalty to draw 1-1 at home against Cape Town All Stars in Chatsworth to earn the point they needed to confirm their spot in the lucrative DStv Premiership next season.
Sekhukhune went into their match three points behind Royal and needed to beat JDR and Royal to earn automatic promotion through their superior goal difference.
Royal finished on 51 points to finish top while Sekhukhune‚ who moved to 50 points and second position‚ will have another crack for a Premiership spot via the promotion playoffs along with third finishers Richards Bay‚ who won their match against relegated Steenberg United.
Royal will be celebrating deep into the night but their party could be halted by the court action and points controversy.
An arbitrator ruled in Sekhukhune’s favour last week in the dispute involving Polokwane City‚ who were found guilty and in contravention of the league’s rules after they failed to field the stipulated number of five Under-23 players during a match against their Limpopo rivals in January.
The ruling would have catapulted Sekhukhune from second to top of the GladAfrica Championship table due to their superior goal difference ahead of the final day matches.
But the League complicated the matter on Friday after its executive committee met and resolved to challenge the arbitrator’s decision to award the three points to Sekhukhune over Polokwane’s transgressions.
Polokwane were docked the three points for their transgressions but bizarrely Sekhukhune‚ who apparently played the match under protest‚ were not awarded those points.
Despite the arbitrator’s ruling‚ the league has still not updated the Championship table to reflect the three points that should be awarded to Sekhukhune.
The league put a spanner in the works with a short statement shortly after the completion of the matches on Sunday which revealed that it has been threatened with court action without naming the club making the threats.
“The Premier Soccer League has been threatened and served with court papers in relation to an arbitration award handed down impacting the GladAfrica Championship table‚” reads the league’s statement.
“The matter must be clearly ventilated one way or the other and resolved.
“The league’s responsibility is to properly consider the matter and take advice to ensure all disputes and differences are finalised urgently and without delay.
“While the matter remains in dispute‚ it is advisable to delay the GladAfrica Championship trophy handover for a short period to permit the league to consider the matter.
“The league undertakes to resolve whatever issues there are as expeditiously as possible.”
Steenberg’s defeat to Bay condemned the Western Cape-based outfit to relegation along with already relegated Bizana Pondo Chiefs.