The wait is over! Irvin Khoza announces PSL return date

Irvin Khoza (Gallo Images)
Irvin Khoza (Gallo Images)
  • The Premier Soccer League (PSL) boss Irvin Khoza held a press conference confirming the return of domestic football in South Africa.
  • The official return date is scheduled for Saturday, 8 August with the Nedbank Cup semi-finals between Mamelodi Sundowns and Bidvest Wits.
  • The Absa Premiership will return three days later with a midweek kick-off on Tuesday, 11 August - a full fixture list will be revealed in the coming days.

South African officials voted Monday to restart the 2019/20 season on Saturday, 8 August after it was halted in March by the coronavirus.

An official involved in the online decision-making meeting told AFP that the 2019/2020 campaign would conclude on 5 September.

The remaining 54 league matches will be played behind closed doors in Gauteng.

Gauteng is the epicentre of the pandemic in South Africa but the national association says health protocols will ensure there is only a "one percent chance" of anyone being infected.

By last Sunday, South Africa had confirmed 445,433 Covid-19 cases and 6,769 deaths, making it the country most affected by the disease in the continent.

Before the 11 August league resumption, the Nedbank Cup semi-finals between Mamelodi Sundowns and Bidvest Wits and Baroka and Bloemfontein Celtic will be held three days earlier on Saturday, 8 August.

11 matches in 29 days

Sundowns and Wits have nine league fixtures each to play - the most among the 16 clubs - meaning whoever wins the semi-final must play 11 matches in 29 days.

Were Sundowns or Wits to play every third day they would need 31 days, two more than allocated, to complete their league and cup schedule.

The decision to restart a season suspended in March by Covid-19 was a relief to Absa, one of the five major South African banks, whose contract expires when this season ends.

"We trusted that the PSL (Premier Soccer League) would do everything in their power to complete their season," said Absa managing executive David Wingfield.

Television rights holders SuperSport will also welcome the decision to resume as Premiership matches attract large audiences.

There are 54 league matches to play plus the semi-finals and final of the Nedbank Cup, the South African equivalent of the FA Cup.

Kaizer Chiefs, winners of a record 53 domestic competitions but seeking a first trophy in five seasons, are the league leaders with a four-point advantage over Mamelodi Sundowns.

But 2016 African champions Sundowns have one match in hand as they seek a third consecutive title and a record-extending 10th overall.

At the other end of the table, only seven points separate seven clubs in the battle to avoid relegation, and the dire financial consequences it brings.

While the club finishing last in the Premiership pocket R440,000, the second division champions receive only R300,000.

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