Still go­ing strong

Kick Off Yearbook - - SPORT - Richard Maguire

It is fair to say that the Premier Soc­cer League has had its ups and downs since launch­ing in 1996, but as we play the 20th sea­son of Africa’s strong­est league com­pe­ti­tion, we find our League in good health and on a sturdy foot­ing.

Of course, there re­main cer­tain irk­some prob­lems that have not been sur­mounted, chief of which is the fix­ture list. It is an ex­tremely dif­fi­cult, and thank­less task try­ing to plot dates tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion the re­quire­ments of Safa and its var­i­ous na­tional teams, the Fifa cal­en­dar, the CAF cal­en­dar – which is never in sync with Fifa – and the wishes of the spon­sorss.

I have long railed against the will­ing­ness of the League to spread out cup rounds over a num­ber of match­days (even a cou­ple of weeks), and while the ten­dency per­sists, at least cup rounds are not strung out quite as much as pre­vi­ously.

I do feel too, that League ad­min­is­tra­tors can be more imag­i­na­tive in struc­tur­ing the fix­ture list. If Fifa/safa/ CAF are go­ing to dis­rupt the sched­ule, do your best to con­trol it where you can. For ex­am­ple, play four rounds of League fix­tures in suc­ce­sion, to build up in­ter­est in League com­pe­ti­tion, be­fore break­ing the flow up with cup matches. For a whole month to go by with only one round of League fix­tures played is no good at all.

So, the fix­ture list co­nun­drum per­sists. More wor­ry­ing, is the re­cent in­crease in con­trac­tual dis­putes around the move­ment of play­ers. While of­ten these dis­putes are un­avoid­able, I am dis­turbed when a club (Polok­wane City, for ex­am­ple) is able to hold a player over the bar­rel (as they have done with Cole Alexan­der), sidelin­ing him be­cause he does not want to sign a longer-term con­tract.

I ex­pect the League and the Play­ers Union to be vig­i­lant – we do not want a re­turn to the dark ages, when clubs acted with im­punity, in­fring­ing on play­ers’ rights.

Quib­bles aside, the League in tan­dem with its core spon­sors M-net/mul­tichoice and Absa is on a strong foot­ing.

May it grow ever stronger.

Premier Soc­cer League is the trad­ing name of the Na­tional Soc­cer League (NSL) Formed: 1996 (NSL formed in 1985) CON­TACT INFO: Phys­i­cal ad­dress: No 2 Winch­ester Road, Park­town 2193 Postal ad­dress: PO Box 15740, Doorn­fontein 2028 Tel: +27 11 715 2500 Fax: +27 11 482 9290 Email: Web­site: Face­book: Of­fi­cial PSL Twit­ter: @Of­fi­cialpsl

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