Kadodia: PSL must take control

2008-05-26 00:00

In mid-April, Maritzburg United had just won the National First Division Coastal Stream, were on form and looking ahead with expectation to the play-off final for promotion to the Premier Soccer League, confident of a victory.

A month-and-a-half later, due to circumstances beyond their control, United’s potential progression back to the PSL looks far less certain.

The FC AK bribery appeal delaying the NFD play-off final was this weekend postponed for a second time to tomorrow.

Even if a resolution is found tomorrow, should expelled Inland winners FC AK lose in their attempt to overturn the guilty verdict they received on bribery and corruption from the PSL disciplinary committee, the club still have 72 hours to take the matter to arbitration.

Issues of concern surrounding this matter are:

o arbitration could leave the case dragging on into at least the first week of June, if not further;

o there are four Fifa international dates across June, during which clubs must release foreign-based players for national team duty;

o the possibility that the entire play-offs process could drag on into July, when teams are supposed to begin preparations for the new season;

o if United play the NFD final in mid-June, their players will have two weeks’ rest before beginning their preparations for the new season;

o United, and the other clubs in the play-offs, need to decide which players from their current squad will remain for next season;

o and on bolstering their squad for the PSL should they be promoted.

These factors have left United chairman Farouk Kadodia a worried man.

"Firstly, we are disappointed that, apart from a fax on April 30 to inform us that the play-off final has been suspended indefinitely, we haven’t had any guidance from the PSL as far as going forward," Kadodia said.

Kadodia received a further fax from the PSL while this interview was being conducted, dated Friday and saying the play-off final remains suspended.

"In the interim period, we have been playing friendlies to try to keep the players in shape, but even the friendlies have come to a halt because all the PSL, first division and Vodacom teams are on holiday.

"We have players whose contracts end on June 30, with an option to renew, but they must be informed one month before. We need to find out from the PSL if those players’ contracts will now be extended by a month to the end of July, should the play-offs be played then. We have to take precautions that those players don’t become free agents and become poached. The players, as workers, who we release also need to confirm that they have a club for the new season."

Kadodia maintains that the Coastal/Inland format foisted on the NFD clubs at the start of the season remains the root of the problem.

"The last time the league was a Coastal/Inland format the two winners were promoted automatically. Nobody sat back and thought about repercussions for a play-off system, or included in the rules what would happen if a team was kicked out of the final.

"I firmly believe if the case against FC AK is upheld, United should be promoted rather than having to play another Inland team.

"The league had enough time to deal with this case, which surfaced in the press in January. By leaving it so late, the league is risking delaying the start of the new PSL season, and unfairly disadvantaging clubs in the play-offs — for the play-offs and the new season."

And there is one further complication. Renovations on Harry Gwala Stadium mean the ground is set to shut down for a year from June 30, leaving United not only scrambling for a home ground for next season, but perhaps a new venue for the home leg of the NFD final.

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