SABC standoff is ‘crippling’ Safa
● 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.”
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.