Pressing Issues: Khoza made the right decision

2012-11-17 20:31

Iron Duke’s move to withdraw from Sascoc elections is good for both Olympic athletes and the PSL in these tough times

Premier Soccer League (PSL) chairman Irvin Khoza made the right decision when he pulled out of the race to become the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) president after “applying” his mind.

Given that Khoza has done well as PSL chairman in the past 10 years, getting the Sascoc top job would have stretched him a bit, given that he is also at the helm of Orlando Pirates, one of South Africa’s most successful football clubs and a big sports brand.

As he rightfully acknowledged in his acceptance speech after being elected unopposed for a further four-year term, there are big challenges ahead.

The league has done well in attracting money like never before, but there is a big challenge to try to bring back more bums to seats during PSL matches.

While the league continues to draw megabucks to its coffers, the crowds have continued to drop at an alarming rate.

As things stand, Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs are the only sides in the league of 16 that still manage to fill the FNB Stadium to capacity.

Unfortunately, while Khoza and his sponsorship committee have been breaking their backs to bring loads of moola to the league, which in turn is shared by clubs which have jumped from getting R1 million a year in monthly grants to R20 million, the windfall has resulted in most club bosses resting on their laurels.

Very little marketing is done by clubs to attract crowds, and even to entice and appease card-carrying supporters.

Unlike the unprecedented jump in sponsorship that was recorded in 2006 with the ground-breaking broadcast deal from SuperSport as well as the money coming from giant banking institutions Absa and Nedbank, the league’s current financial report says sponsorship grew by a mere 14% this time around.

This is a clear indication that the pre-2010 Fifa World Cup craze, when companies were falling all over themselves to sponsor soccer, is over.

Add to that the continuing tough economic trading conditions in general, and times are really tough. There are also no signs that an immediate change is imminent.

This calls for innovative ways to attract money to the sport.

As rightfully mentioned by Khoza himself, poor crowds at stadiums also don’t make for good televised matches.
If the situation is not rescued, broadcasters will find it harder to televise live matches and make them attractive viewing. Who knows what their next decision might be?

As for Sascoc president Gideon Sam, he should not take the confidence shown in him by the different sports federations to stand unopposed as a sign that he should relax.

It is a vote of confidence that should spur him to ensure that the organisation attracts enough money to support athletes so that we get far more than the six medals we brought from the London Games come the Rio de Janeiro version in 2016.

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