Absa Premiership

PSL verdict to cost Sundowns the title?

Wayne Arendse (Gallo Images)
Wayne Arendse (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - It seems to contain some of the elements of the Mad Hatters Tea Party in Alice in Wonderland as log leaders and defending Absa Premiership champions Mamelodi Sundowns face the possibility of being deprived of a point by the PSL that could cost them their title - with appeals on the issue bizarrely carrying on beyond the last game of the season on May 11.

The madcap situation revolves round the decision already taken by the PSL Disciplinary Committee this week to find Sundowns guilty of illegally fielding Wayne Arendse in the 1-1 draw against fellow championship challengers Bidvest Wits.

While no sentencing has yet been delivered, it could transform the result of the match to a 3-0 win for Wits and immediately leapfrog The Students over The Brazilians in the log table on goal difference.

What makes the affair seem further like a page out of Ripley's "Believe it or Not" saga is that the Sundowns-Wits game took place six months ago and the issue at hand should rightly have been settled, one way or another, long ago - thereby avoiding any possible embarrassment of the League winner remaining an unknown factor after the championship is concluded.

Certainly the PSL administration will be praying that the latest development does not ultimately decide who is Absa Premiership champions for the 2018/19 season, but League prosecutor Nande Becker has reaffirmed emphatically that Sundowns were guilty of fielding Arendse against Wits when he was not included on the official team list for the game.

"According to the PSL constitution," added Becker, "a player cannot be billeted into a game if he is not included on the team list of starting players and reserves submitted to the referee and Arendse was not on that list and thereby had no right to take the field."

But complicating the matter with startling effect - and which Sundowns believe should be a trump card and influence the final sentence - is the assertion of The Brazilians that the match commissioner had given them permission to call up Arendse and that he has confirmed to making this ruling, rightly or wrongly.

Ultimately it might require the wisdom of Solomon to clear up the mess - or a series of results that make the Arendse controversy irrelevant in deciding who becomes Absa Premiership champions.

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