Picture: 123RF/TOMASZ TRYBUS
Picture: 123RF/TOMASZ TRYBUS

The SA Football Association (Safa) says the first week of August is the appropriate date for restarting Premier Soccer League (PSL) matches.

Safa’s statement‚ released on Tuesday‚ said this point was affirmed in Monday’s joint liaison committee meeting between Safa and the PSL‚ the trading name of the National Soccer League (NSL).

The venue of Gauteng to host the bio-safe environment where the Premiership and Nedbank Cup will be completed was never approved by Safa‚ the association’s statement said.

While Safa’s statement was tersely worded‚ there did appear to be an element of compromise to its stance.

The PSL‚ according to sources and documents leaked to the media‚ had wanted a July 18 return to play‚ and had selected 11 playing and 14 training venues in Pretoria and Johannesburg. A letter to this effect was apparently sent to Safa by acting PSL CEO Mato Madlala late last week.

A response from Safa acting CEO Tebogo Motlanthe indicated that a restart before August 1 was impractical‚ and it might need to be later. However‚ Safa now appears to be committing to a start by the first week of August.

On Monday, PSL chair Irvin Khoza told a media conference that while Fifa will accept a 2019-2020 season beyond August 31, if duly informed‚ the league sees such a cut-off date as essential due to pressing financial concerns.

Safa’s statement on Tuesday read: “Safa worked on processes outlined in ‘the return to play’ protocol which was submitted and agreed by the government. Subsequently‚ the government issued a regulation in terms of the government gazette.

“On June 11‚ the minister of sport sent a letter to Safa that they should appoint the compliance officer to oversee the entire process of return to training and return to play protocols.

“Safa duly appointed Thulani Ngwenya and Mlungisi Ncame as the compliance officers to liaise with the NSL.

“In a report submitted by the league on July 13‚ the league confirmed they have done extensive work to ensure that clubs return to training in compliance with the directives issued by government.”

Safa’s statement notes that according to the referees’ sub-committee of the technical committee‚ the first week of August is the appropriate date for the commencement of NSL matches.

It notes that the choice of Gauteng as the host province for training and match venues‚ as well as hotels‚ it was agreed to by the government and NSL and Safa had no input to the process, and the 110 match officials will be subjected to medical and mandatory fitness tests.

“In the meantime‚ once the compliance officers have completed their report‚ it will be submitted to the government to gazette on the return to play date.

“The world football government body‚ Fifa has accepted that it is the government responsibility to approve the return to play date and we will update Fifa on the progress achieved,” the statement continues.  

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