Chances of finishing season diminishes due to coronavirus

29 March 2020 - 00:02 By SAZI HADEBE
Sundowns celebrate being PSL champions last season. There may not be a picture like this at the end of the current campaign because of the coronavirus . Picture: Gallo Images
Sundowns celebrate being PSL champions last season. There may not be a picture like this at the end of the current campaign because of the coronavirus . Picture: Gallo Images

With each passing day the chances of the 2019-20 Premier Soccer League (PSL) season being completed shrinks.

The season has two and a half months to run but the outbreak of the coronavirus has grounded all sport in the world.

PSL chiefs are still hoping to complete the campaign by June 30, having pencilled in April 4 as the date to reassess the situation after last week's Board of Governors (BoG) meeting in Johannesburg that resolved to put everything to a complete stop.

The league's legal head Michael Murphy told the Sunday Times this week that the PSL may well have to take its cue from other big leagues.

The April 4 deadline was hit for a six on Monday when President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that SA will go into a three-week lockdown from March 26 to April 16 to try to contain the virus . This means the PSL may, depending on whether the situation improves after the lockdown, start discussing the new date on which the league may resume.

"It's too soon," Murphy said yesterday morning on the issue of resuming the league. "The resolution of the BoG is that we're going to do everything in our power to finish the season by June 30.

"Everything in our power will include the safety and the health of players and all other employees. As part of that we've got two committees that are looking at regulatory issues on how we can do that.

"Let's say tomorrow everyone was healthy and we still have to play behind closed doors, but how will we do that with the categorising of issues with the national commissioner? We want to engage and find out how we can do that in a quick way if the lockdown is lifted."

With the lockdown having been announced most PSL teams have taken a decision to allow their players to train individually at their homes.

The decision not to complete the season will mostly hurt teams like Absa Premiership log leaders Kaizer Chiefs and second-placed Mamelodi Sundowns, who were gunning for their third straight league title and 10th in the PSL era.

But for teams battling relegation that include AmaZulu FC, Polokwane City, Baroka FC and Black Leopards, the cancellation of the season may prove to be a huge relief.

Ajax Cape Town and Swallows FC, the current leaders in the National First Division (NFD), may also benefit if the PSL takes a decision to expand the league to 18 teams
next season.

But Murphy cautioned against such talk as the PSL was yet to even start contemplating cancelling the season and what it will mean for every team in the PSL and NFD.

"No one has spoken about what happens if we can't continue. It's just too much going on, too much up in the air and too many things to think about. It will all depend on your circumstances and on a lot of things," said Murphy.

The fitness of the players is another factor that may pose a lot of questions about when it may be proper to resume, with doctors warning of players getting injuries if rushed back into action.

"I can guarantee you that the players will not be fit when they come back," said Bafana Bafana's former doctor Mogoru Ntlopi this week, adding that many don't even have proper equipment to train on their own at home.

President of the SA Football Players Union Thulaganyo Gaoshubelwe said they have a duty to ensure that every health issue is strictly followed before the players take to the field again.

"Players have got rights and we're not going to compromise on that. The players want to play under enabling conditions that ensure they're taken care of," he said.

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