The SABC office in Auckland Park, Johannesburg. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
The SABC office in Auckland Park, Johannesburg. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

SA’s biggest sport is set to become the latest victim of the SA Broadcasting Corporation’s (SABC’s) cash woes.

The SA Football Association (Safa) said arrears from the SABC would probably push it to a loss of about R20m in the financial year to June.

The more immediate concern for fans may be the possibility that Bafana Bafana’s next official games may not be broadcast as a result of the crisis.

As much as 70% of Safa’s revenue is generated from its partnership with the SABC, which is supposed to pay about R10m a month for the right to broadcast Bafana Bafana‚ Banyana Banyana‚ SAB League National Championship‚ junior national team and ABC Motsepe League matches in line with an agreement that ended in April.

But according to Safa‚ the public broadcaster, which reported a net loss of almost R1bn in the 2016/2017 financial year, has failed to honour its financial obligations for several months and owes the football body more than R50m.

A new contract is yet to be signed because the SABC "wants to reduce the amount significantly before signing", the soccer body says.

'Under pressure'

This comes barely a week after it had emerged that SABC television group executive Nomsa Philiso had written to service providers and creditors telling them the public broadcaster was deferring payments due at the end of July because it was "under pressure" in the short term.

Safa CFO Gronie Hluyo said the SABC’s financial woes were having a devastating effect on the football governing body’s cashflow and it had its back against the wall. The SABC was supposed to pay the federation R27.5m each quarter, and its failure to cough up was "having a serious impact on our operations", Hluyo said.

Bafana play 2019 African Nations Cup qualifying matches against Libya in September and the Seychelles in October.

Safa CEO Dennis Mumble said given that the SABC had already failed to meet its financial obligations in the last few months‚ there was a strong possibility of a blackout.

"For May and June of our financial year we are without income, which is now dragging us below our break-even point‚" Mumble said.

"So we are going to end up showing a loss this year because of that. If we did have the broadcast contract renewed we would be showing a profit. But we are now sitting with a deficit for the financial year because of the situation at the SABC."

Hluyo echoed Mumble, and said the SABC was to blame for Safa’s current predicament.

Mumble said the SABC had so far displayed an attitude of indifference towards SA football and the impasse could drag on to the detriment of fans.

SABC spokesman Kaizer Kganyago said on Tuesday: "The SABC would like to put it on record that Mr Mumble’s utterances are regrettable and we dispute this with the contempt it deserves.

"The SABC takes its public service mandate seriously, and sport of national interest, which includes local football, is part of this mandate. The Premier Soccer League and SABC agreement, which was finally concluded yesterday [on Monday], bears testimony to the fact that the SABC takes local football and its audiences seriously."

He said it was public knowledge that the SABC "is facing liquidity challenges, and in the best interest of turning around the organisation it will not benefit the SABC to engage in contracts that are not commercially viable as this can be viewed as reckless trading".