The Premier Soccer League (PSL) has allayed fears that Black Leopards’ appeal against having three points deducted from the club will not jeopardise the National First Division (NFD) play-offs.
Today marks the end of the NFD campaign, and Leopards find themselves trailing University of Pretoria by two points with one final round of matches left this afternoon.
A disciplinary committee this week found the Limpopo-based club guilty of fielding an improperly registered player, Edgar Manaka, against Batau FC in a league match in March.
Leopards won the game 2-1 but the points gained were expunged by the league.
Before the points were deducted from Lidoda Duvha, the 2011 Nedbank Cup semifinalists had a haul of 35 points in 20 matches and were on the brink of a play-off qualification.
Thanda Royal Zulu have already confirmed their place in the play-offs after finishing second to Bay United in the Coastal Stream with a game to spare.
The turn of the tables this week means the runners-up spot in the Inland Stream could go either Leopards’ or AmaTuks’ way, depending on the outcome of their games against United FC and FC AK today.
Leopards team manager Sam Khaphathe confirmed that his side have lodged an appeal.
However, PSL chief operations officer Ronnie Schloss said: “The play-offs are not under threat as Leopards’ intention won’t affect the main play-off between Jomo Cosmos and Bay United. The national play-offs involving four clubs will only happen after the Nedbank Cup final (on May 28).”
Inland Stream champions Cosmos and Coastal Stream winners United – who will each receive R175 000 first prize – will face off over two legs. The winner will gain automatic promotion to the Premiership and get an additional R125 000.
The first leg kicks off on Saturday with the return fixture pencilled in for May 22.
The losing side will join the runners-up from each stream as well as the club that finishes 15th in the Premiership.
The foursome will meet in the semifinals on May 25 and May 29, while the final will take place over two legs – on June 11 and June 18.
» Meanwhile, an intriguing finish is on the cards in the basement of the Coastal log, as one point separates relegation candidates Nathi Lions (15 points) and Hanover Park (14 points), who are in seventh and eight positions.
It remains to be seen if the Capetonians can survive for the third time running.
Batau FC are already relegated in the Inland stream.
The NFD will become a single stream next season.