Irvin Khoza, chairman of the PSL. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/SYDNEY SESHIBEDI
Irvin Khoza, chairman of the PSL. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/SYDNEY SESHIBEDI

It is understood that insurance giants Outsurance are closely watching developments concerning the main sponsor in the Premier Soccer League (PSL).

The Sunday Times reported at the weekend that DStv was a front-runner to replace Absa as headline sponsor of the PSL from the 2020-21 season.

However, it is believed the pay-television company owned by MultiChoice might have competition from financial services investment holding company Outsurance.

But the insurance company is in dispute with the SA Football Association (Safa) about a R50m sponsorship deal.

Safa announced a five-year sponsorship for match officials in September 2018 that saw referees kitted in Outsurance logos and colours‚ but the deal created conflict with the association’s special member‚ the PSL.

The PSL argued that the partnership was in conflict with the rights of its headline sponsors Absa and Nedbank‚ who have similar consumer product offerings to Outsurance.

A public row between Safa and the PSL ensued.

The PSL argued that it should have been consulted as the Outsurance deal infringed upon the exclusivity afforded to Absa and Nedbank.

But Safa would have none of it‚ saying as the mother body they do not need permission from their special member to sign up with any sponsor of their choice.

It was decided in August 2019 that the matter would be settled through an arbitration process‚ an outcome of which would be binding and final.

With main sponsors Absa ending their 13-year partnership with the PSL at the end of the season‚ the resistance to OUTsurance’s entrance into football may be softened.

It is understood that Outsurance would not be too averse to the arbitration award going against their deal with Safa‚ which could pave the way for the insurance giants to dangle a carrot in front of the PSL.

The arbitrator‚ advocate Paul Pretorious‚ said he would hand down his award “soon”‚ which could be by the end of June.

Dario Milo, who  acted as the PSL attorney during arbitration, said: “I can’t help you until I get permission from the PSL.”

Outsurance client relations head Natasha Kawulesar said the insurer was awaiting the arbitration decision in the dispute between Safa and the PSL before making decisions on further investments in football.

“We do still have two years in our current contract [with Safa]‚ which expires in July 2022.”

Given that the dispute between Safa and the PSL over the Outsurance referee’s sponsorship was lodged as a result of Absa in the main as headline sponsors‚ Kawulesar was non-committal when asked if the insurer might look at the bank’s exit as an opportunity to make inroads into professional football.

“As I have already said‚ at this stage we are not making any further commitment to football‚” she said.

Despite the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in SA‚ Absa’s departure would have left many companies alert to the opportunities that can be presented by the exposure that comes with sponsoring the PSL.

Kevin Watt‚ MD of Nielsen Sports in Africa and Asia‚ said that whoever was replacing Absa as the main sponsor stood to gain maximum exposure for the company.

“There’s no sponsorship that resonates as strongly with a broad range of South Africans as the Premier Soccer League‚” Watt said.

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