John Comitis. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/GRANT PITCHER
John Comitis. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/GRANT PITCHER

Cape Town City owner John Comitis says if the coronavirus compromises the financial stability of the Premier Soccer League (PSL) it should consider freezing promotion and relegation for a few seasons to allow clubs to slash budgets.

It would “remove the fear factor”‚ and allow clubs to cut ineffective big-name players and field more affordable 18-year-olds, Comitis said.

Comitis has said that PSL matches probably need to resume in some form by the end of May to avoid big financial losses.

In the pre and post-2010 World Cup era‚ SA football experienced  an economic boom‚ and clubs’ budgets have grown exponentially.

Comitis said if a big part of its financial might is wiped out and clubs’ budgets are slashed due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic there are areas of comfort where teams can cut back‚ but it will take hard decisions.

“As long as those [monthly] grants are coming in to the clubs‚ at least you can survive.

“If you’re astute and run things tightly‚ all the extras are going to have to go‚” Comitis said. “Our players‚ coaches and technical staff come to training‚ and all have breakfast and lunch. All of these nice-to-haves are going to have to go.

“If you want to survive‚ put a team out‚ and there are no more squads of 30‚ you have to trim them down to 23. The guys who are demanding big salaries‚ you’re going to have to say: ‘I can’t’‚ and say ‘no’.

“There’s a lot of aspects of football where we squander. It’s a fear factor. You don’t want to be in relegation and you get this player‚ get a big name and sometimes you end up paying the price for it.

“Every club has four or five big hitters who haven’t delivered this season. And now the first thing everybody’s thinking is: ‘How do I get out of this?’

“So there are sustainable things that we can do. But ... you need to have a strong will to get through it. If we get to the point where we have serious revenue problems we’re going to possibly have to freeze relegation and promotion for a few seasons.

“Then maybe a club will play an 18-year-old‚ and he’s costing me R20‚000 a month‚ and he’s not too bad. Because you don’t have the [relegation] fear factor.

“So that will balance the books‚ in a way. But that’s a bold decision and it’s not necessarily the right one‚ but I’m just thinking out loud here.”

Comitis said clubs might also have to turn to more affordable‚ committed and hungry players from the continent. A salary cap for the PSL might be another offshoot consequence of the coronavirus pandemic.

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