Premier Soccer League chairman Irvin Khoza has on Monday afternoon confirmed the return of football and resumption date for the 2019/20 season.
The league had been halted more than four months ago due to the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic at a time Kaizer Chiefs were leading the Absa Premiership log table with just eight matches remaining.
Ajax Cape Town were table toppers in the GladAfrica Championship, the second tier of SA football, around the same time, too, and were eager to return to play in order to secure the club’s promotion to the Premiership.
Speaking at a hastily arranged press conference at the league’s headquarters in Johannesburg, Khoza said: “Today we agreed unanimously as the board of governors that we must resume on August 8 and finish the season on the first weekend of September. I phoned the president of SAFA (Danny Jordaan) to inform him that we are resuming on the 8th of August. I also tried to get hold of the Sports Minister (Nathi Mthethwa), but was unable to get hold of him because Mondays are busy. We have resolved that the first games will be the two semi-finals of the Nedbank Cup and the final will be the last game of the season.”
Bidvest Wits will host Mamelodi Sundowns in the first cup tie, while the other semifinal is between Baroka FC and Bloemfontein Celtic.
League matches will remain as they are, with only dates and the broadcasting schedule still to be confirmed by rights holders SuperSport.
“It’s a difficult time in this country. So this announcement will also help as we navigate this virus that is affecting this country. We will meet again as the board of governors to discuss all the other logistics,” Khoza explained.
Initially, the PSL had proposed July 18 for the resumption of the campaign, but SAFA – who were told to oversee the process by the government, insisted on August 1, arguing that clubs must first comply with health and safety protocols and that referees were yet to be tested for both the virus and fitness.
“The issue of the referees has been resolved now and we appreciate what SAFA has done to get them ready and into their own bio-bubble before they move into the PSL one before the games can begin,” Khoza explained.
He added that teams were allowed a maximum capacity of 50 for players and staff, but reiterated that clubs would cover their own costs of the accommodation, which the Siya crew has confirmed could be up to R2.5-million per team.
The bio-bubble, which is meant to be safe for all teams throughout the of the balance of the season, will be in Gauteng.