When there is no pap en vleis over Christmas, we settle for Yorkshire pudding

2011-12-21 00:00

THE festive season has always been an exciting time for sports fans, and this one will be no different. The English Premier League goes absolutely bonkers over Christmas, with sides playing no fewer than four matches in two weeks between now and January 4.

For many teams this is a period when seasons and managers’ careers are made or broken. For us, sitting at home with our feet up and beverages in hand, it doesn’t get much better. With a Boxing Day Test to add to our full plates, we are sure to be well fed with sporting activity as the year winds down.

But if you, like me, are able to squeeze in that little bit extra during this time of overindulgence, then you’d best not look to PSL to add anything to your heaped Christmas plate.

Nope, the PSL has closed for business. After tonight’s round of fixtures the next time you see any local action will be after Valentine’s Day. Fixtures resume on February 15, after what will be a break approaching two months.

The decision was taken to accommodate next year’s African Cup of Nations in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, which kicks off on January 21.

But Bafana Bafana have played their part in ensuring that the likes of Siphiwe Tshabalala and Oupa Manyisa will not be playing professional football for a while.

Everybody deserves a break. But two months? That seems ludicrous.

We might as well crown one PSL champion tonight and start a new season in February, because any momentum that a side has created for itself will count for nothing after eight weeks without a fixture.

The point of a league season is to determine which side has been the best, consistently, over a set period, not over two set periods. What will the players do in this extended break? Well, friendly matches and an opportunity to rectify tactical flaws before resuming the league are sure to be high up on most managers’ agendas.

And while Maritzburg United go in search of securing the servi­ces of a striker who can score goals, this time might also give those players who have struggled with injury all season a chance to recover. First-choice striker Diyo Sibisi has been struggling with an ankle injury for a while now and hopefully by the time “PSL round two” starts, he will have recovered completely.

Leagues need continuity in order to succeed. The PSL has done so much right in recent times. There are more matches on television these days and our log makes for much easier reading than it did a few years back when some sides had a handful of matches to catch up on their opponents.

There is money flying around the PSL that wasn’t always there, and it has all made for a much better product. But a two-month break in the middle of a campaign is something that simply cannot happen again. And even if Bafana had qualified for Afcon, this should not have been reason enough to stop everything while the tournament takes place. One of the appeals of league football is that it tests the depths of its clubs.

But all is not doom and gloom and while we might well have forgotten who is leading the PSL come February, at least we have the Premier League to keep us alive. And what a season that is turning out to be. You’d be a brave man to bet on anybody but City at the moment, but with all the matches taking place over the next couple of weeks, that could all change very quickly.

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