SABC stand­off is ‘crip­pling’ Safa

Sunday Times - - Sport - By MARC STRYDOM

● The stand­off be­tween the SA Broad­cast­ing Cor­po­ra­tion (SABC) and the SA Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion (Safa) for a new an­nual broad­cast­ing deal for Bafana Bafana matches is crip­pling the as­so­ci­a­tion fi­nan­cially, Safa’s act­ing CEO Rus­sell Paul has said.

Speak­ing af­ter the mat­ter was dis­cussed at Safa’s or­di­nary coun­cil meet­ing at Safa House in Nas­rec on Satur­day, Paul re­it­er­ated the as­so­ci­a­tion’s re­jec­tion of the SABC’s “piti­fully low” of­fer of R10m — down from last year’s R110m.

Safa’s fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion is ap­par­ently dire, with re­gions not hav­ing re­ceived grants, and match of­fi­cials and prize money for com­pe­ti­tions not hav­ing been paid.

Paul said Safa had ef­fec­tively been stabbed in the back by the SABC af­ter it had shown pa­tience to the cash-strapped broad­caster’s sit­u­a­tion last year when it could not meet obli­ga­tions of the pre­vi­ous con­tract.

He said those non-pay­ments were the be­gin­ning of Safa’s cash-flow prob­lems, and now a non-re­newal is jeop­ar­dis­ing the as­so­ci­a­tion’s abil­ity to meet obli­ga­tions.

“It is di­rectly re­lated to that and the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion is ex­ac­er­bat­ing it,” Paul said.

“We recog­nise that the SA pub­lic has been de­nied the op­por­tu­nity to watch their beloved Bafana Bafana [the SABC did not broad­cast yes­ter­day’s Africa Cup of Na­tions qual­i­fier against Sey­chelles], and em­pathise.

“But the de­vel­op­ment of foot­ball is suf­fer­ing be­cause that’s where this money goes.”

Sher­iff

Paul con­firmed re­ports that the sher­iff has been to Safa’s of­fices re­gard­ing fi­nan­cial obli­ga­tions not met for a court or­der per­tain­ing to for­mer CEO Les­lie Sed­ibe and R30m owed to travel agent Fli-Afrika.

“In some of those we’ve set­tled what we’ve needed to with the sher­iff,” Paul said.

“As to how much of an ef­fect it [the SABC non-re­newal] has — can any busi­ness sur­vive with R110m miss­ing from its cof­fers?”

He said Safa is not near to be­ing shut down. “It’s a foot­ball or­gan­i­sa­tion and we will con­tinue,” Paul said.

“We’ve stood by the SABC when they were not able to pay. The ef­fects of this are go­ing to be felt down on the ground. It’s a de­vel­op­ment is­sue. Broad­cast rev­enue is about 30% of our rev­enue. If we don’t get it, some­thing’s got to give.

“We find it so sur­pris­ing that they have found money for the English Pre­mier League. Worst of all they are tele­vis­ing EPL games at the same time as PSL games.

“They are di­lut­ing the soc­cer au­di­ence in this coun­try.

“Se­condly, they have man­aged to find money to sign up cricket T20 [Cricket SA’s new com­pe­ti­tion]. We have no beef with cricket. But don’t make foot­ball the scape­goat.”

Paul said given that the SABC is a pub­lic en­tity, Safa will con­sider ask­ing for full dis­clo­sure on how much the broad­caster is pay­ing for the EPL and CSA’s T20.

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