After the board of governors’ meeting on Tuesday, it’s all systems go for clubs to return to training.
The PSL is considering Gauteng and North West to host the 32 clubs so the stalled 2019/20 season can be completed. KwaZulu-Natal has also shown interest in hosting the clubs, PSL chairperson Irvin Khoza told City Press on Saturday.
Khoza also confirmed that the PSL has until Tuesday to tell Fifa when the league plans to start and finish the season, which has been on hold since mid-March following the outbreak of the Covid-19 coronavirus.
After government gave domestic football the green light to resume training this week, deliberations are now centred on which base will have the capacity to house the 32 PSL and NFD teams, as well as the match officials.
This includes the provision of training and playing venues. The base is referred to as a “biological safe environment” and must conform to government’s risk-adjusted strategy to manage the spread of the virus. Crucially, it must not be a Covid-19 hot spot.
“In our application to government, we submitted that our biological safe environment will be in Gauteng and North West, but KwaZulu-Natal also made a pitch, which was exciting and very interesting,” revealed Khoza, while clarifying that this was not a bidding process.
He said the submission was referred to the league’s task team and then to the executive.
“It will then be finalised at the meeting of the board of governors on Tuesday,” he explained.
However, Khoza could not give specific reasons on the league’s initial choice of Gauteng and North West, but the two provinces boast stadiums of Fifa standards.
North West, in addition to the Royal Bafokeng, Moruleng and Olympia stadiums, also has the Sun City/Lost City resort and the Royal Marang Hotel, which are perfectly secluded from the hustle and bustle of city life.
KwaZulu-Natal has top stadiums such as Moses Mabhida, Kings Park, King Zwelithini, Princess Magogo, Chatsworth and Harry Gwala, while Gauteng has the FNB Stadium, Rand Stadium, Orlando Stadium, Dobsonville, Ellis Park, Makhulong, Bidvest Stadium, Lucas Moripe and Loftus Versveld.
Interestingly, Gauteng, which has 10 clubs and KwaZulu-Natal with seven, have the most representations across the premier and first divisions, something that could cause the PSL a headache when it comes to allocating training venues.
Home ground draws
Khoza said the league would conduct a draw to determine which teams get to use their home colours.
“When you make a submission for 32 teams, everything will depend on the fixturing of the teams. We are going to have a draw for the home grounds, a draw for the hotels ... All these will be subject to fairness because we are congregating in one area.
“This will also be discussed at the board of governors meeting on Tuesday,” he said.
The clubs have a combined 108 Absa Premiership fixtures left – which translates to 54 fixtures – while the NFD’s GladAfrica Championship sides have 48 games remaining.
There are also three Nedbank Cup games – two semifinals and a final – outstanding, as well as six promotional play-off fixtures.
As for how much time the league needs to conclude its programme, Khoza said: “Fifa has given us a two-stage approach where we submitted our first letter. After the board of governors meeting on Tuesday, we’ll submit our second letter [stating the league’s plans to resume and the dates].”
Khoza conceded that their plans to resume couldn’t be 100% perfect, but they had considered all the options possible.
“Our approach as the PSL was to come up with the medically justifiable risk in hosting the games.
“That is why government, in its response, said our application was exceptional and we exceeded some of the protocols. We cannot be 100%, but we have done everything possible to mitigate the medically justifiable risk, hence we came up with the biological safe environment.”
Khoza added that he had a meeting scheduled with Safa president Danny Jordaan tomorrow to discuss, among other issues, the match officials.
“The referees are part of the camp. That’s why I am meeting with the Safa president. The referees are controlled by Safa, but when they offer services to the PSL, the PSL is responsible for all the expenses,” said Khoza.
For now, the PSL boss said the clubs must wait for a signal from the league before they return to the training grounds.
In addition, the clubs must first meet all the stringent guidelines as set out in the league’s protocol document, titled Covid-19 health and safety directive return to training 2019/20 season.
“The clubs must wait for the PSL because, when you get permission from government, then we must submit our operational plans before they can start training.
“Then we must provide government with our training venues so that when they want to do inspections, they’ll know where to go. All the clubs are also required to appoint compliance officers and medical heads.
“After the board of governors’ meeting, it’s all systems go because we would have complied with those elements.”
Meanwhile, most of the clubs have been carrying out Covid-19 tests on players and sanitising their training facilities over the past few days.
This week, Safa appointed the association’s chief medical officer Dr Thulani Ngwenya as the compliance officer.
The Bafana Bafana team medic is expected to engage with the PSL clubs’ appointed Covid-19 compliance officers to ensure that the protocol document requirements are adhered to.
These include the testing of players, the teams’ support and technical staff, as well as the sanitisation of training venues.