PSL chairman Irvin Khoza. Picture: SOWETAN
PSL chairman Irvin Khoza. Picture: SOWETAN

The standoff over broadcast rights to Absa Premiership matches will be high on the agenda when the government holds crunch talks with the Premier Soccer League (PSL)‚ MultiChoice and the SABC to discuss the long-running saga that has left millions of football fans in the dark.

The talks are set to be held by Thursday and communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams‚ her sports counterpart Nathi Mthethwa‚ PSL chair Irvin Khoza and MultiChoice executive chair Imtiaz Patel will meet the SABC in a bid to find common ground with the cash-strapped public broadcaster.

This comes after Mthethwa met Khoza‚ Patel and MultiChoice CEO Calvo Mawela on Tuesday when they explored ways of finding a lasting solution to the impasse that has led to a PSL black-out on the public broadcaster.

“What is a crucial outcome is that both the PSL and MultiChoice honoured the appointment, and that is an indication of their appreciating the gravity of this matter‚” said Mthethwa.

“I am happy that both parties understand that despite the contrasting interests they represent‚ which are valid on individual accounts‚ what can no longer be treated lightly is the heavy toll this impasse has taken on South Africans.

“That Khoza and Patel and Mawela met me is testament that they understand that a solution must be found.

“After this interaction‚ we are confident that a resolution to this impasse is imminent as of Thursday.”

Premiership matches have not been televised on SABC since the start of the season after the public broadcaster declined a R280m deal for 144 games a year with SuperSport‚ who hold the rights to screen matches. The SABC claimed the deal was not financially viable.

The SABC said it would make revenue of just R47m a year if they accepted the deal. And in what appears to be a retaliatory move against the PSL‚ the SABC decided to extend the soccer coverage blackout on radio.

“Having heard both the PSL and MultiChoice on Tuesday‚ minister Mthethwa is pleased to announce that in the next 48 hours‚ all affected parties will once again meet and what will culminate from that discussion will be an announcement that will constitute a breakthrough in the current impasse‚” said Mthethwa.