The Premier Soccer League’s board of governors has decided to resume the Premiership and National First Division (NFD) seasons on August 8 and end them on September 5.
The season will resume with the semifinals of the Nedbank Cup on August 8, and the league programme will start on August 11.
Insiders who were part of the virtual board of governors meeting held on Monday said there was consensus for the Premiership and lower-tier season to be played to their conclusions starting with the semifinals of the Nedbank Cup. Mamelodi Sundowns face Bidvest Wits in the one semifinal and Bloemfontein Celtic tackle Baroka in the other.
“The agreement was that both leagues must be played to their conclusion and it was largely acceptable across the board. It is a sensible decision because it represents the majority of the 32 teams‚” said one insider.
The second insider said there were other teams that wanted the season to be declared null and void but they were overwhelmed by the voices of the majority.
“There were other clubs that wanted this campaign to be declared null and void but they did not get their way. Some were those who argued about the costly nature of the bio-bubble‚ and the others were mostly those threatened by relegation‚” said the second insider.
Football in SA has been suspended for almost five months due to the Covid-19 pandemic and there were strong rumours that the two leagues would be declared null and void.
Some clubs in the NFD and a few in the Premiership raised concerns about the high costs of moving into the bio-bubble as each club will have to fork out about R2m.
At the same time Black Leopards coach Alan Clark is determined to save the troubled club from relegation and is working around the clock to get the team ready for the restart of the season.
When the season was suspended Leopards were languishing at the foot of the table, three points adrift of second-from-bottom AmaZulu with six matches remaining.
“We have to save the team‚ we don’t want the team to go down‚” said Clark, who will be faced with a mountain to climb.
“I have said it before that we are confident and we don’t deserve to be where we are‚ but we have to pull ourselves out of there.
“If I have a look where we are as a team currently in our training programme and development since the lockdown‚ I think we are looking good.
“The guys are hungry‚ the guys are showing a lot of determination, and what has been good is that we have said we want an opportunity to showcase that we don’t deserve to be where we are.”
With matches set to be played in a bio-bubble in Johannesburg‚ Clark said they are going to miss the lively atmosphere at Thohoyandou Stadium in Venda.
“We have three home and three away games‚ so it is evenly balanced‚” he said. “But we would have enjoyed the home crowd in Thohoyandou because I don’t know anybody who gets the same atmosphere at their home ground.
“We will miss that, but on the other hand we get the benefit of playing at a neutral venue while we could have been playing away from home. So you take the good with the bad.”
Most coaches have voiced concerns that their players will not be fully fit when the season resumes, and Clark echoed their sentiments.
“We have to be ready‚ there isn’t a choice. The situation is that we must be ready. Would we have enjoyed more time? Yes, of course.
“The amount of time out is too excessive and you don’t generally get this amount of time out in football. But it is a new situation and we have to adapt.”
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