Football: PSL targeting 19 July for return to play

The Premier Soccer League (PSL) have reportedly targeted 19 July as the return date for elite football in South Africa.

The PSL discussed possible resumption dates in their virtual board of governors meeting on Thursday 9 July and have reportedly settled on a week from Sunday according to multiple reports.

Waiting on Safa

According to stipulations handed down by the ministry of sports, arts and culture, the South African Football Association (Safa) must approve all of the PSL's plans before the government considers rubber-stamping the restart.

Details of the return to play plan are a mystery at this stage making assessing whether Safa will endorse the plans and government will greenlight them nearly impossible.

PSL coaches have asked for at least three weeks of training before a restart, but only a handful of clubs have been allowed to resume training.

Cape Town City, Kaizer Chiefs, Mamelodi Sundowns, Bidvest Wits, SuperSport United, AmaZulu and Maritzburg United have complied with government's protocols and have gone back to training. Notable absences are Orlando Pirates and all the Limpopo clubs.

The targeted date will give clubs very little time to prepare while broadcaster SuperSport will also have to sort out their feet in a hurry.

Safa and the PSL have agreed that the domestic season should be concluded by 31 August to allow for the opening of a transfer window.

The League has 54 matches to complete, which will require a minimum of nine matchdays to complete and there is also the matter of the Nedbank Cup semi-finals and final, while the National First Division need to get through 44 matches to put 2019/20 in the can.

Reports claim that the PSL are keen on staging all the remaining matches at neutral venues in Gauteng. Another potential hurdle though will be government's approval of those venues which could fall in areas already experiencing a surge in coronavirus cases.

KwaZulu-Natal and North West are also being considered as potential hosts.

The PSL as things stand

Kaizer Chiefs top the PSL log as things stand but they are far from guaranteed the title with Mamelodi Sundowns breathing down their necks four points back with a game in hand.

The entire top eight are still in with a shout of, if not winning the title, then finishing in the top three with 17 points seperating Chiefs from eighth-placed Highlands Park. 

Sundowns may have missed out on the latter stages of the Caf Champions League but they could yet claim a treble. When football restarts Pitso Mosimane will no doubt have a plan to add to the club's Telkom Knockout Cup win.