Huge dilemma facing the PSL_1

Once President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation on Friday night, ruling out all gatherings of more than 100 people, because of the growing coronavirus pandemic, it was really a matter of when, and not if, the PSL would postpone this week’s Absa Premiership fixtures. There was talk of playing games behind closed doors, but even this, with security staff, television crew, and playing staff, could well have amounted to 100 people or more at the stadia. In any case, the situation is at a stage where all possible precautions need to be taken. Leagues across the world have already shut...
Once President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation on Friday night, ruling out all gatherings of more than 100 people, because of the growing coronavirus pandemic, it was really a matter of when, and not if, the PSL would postpone this week’s Absa Premiership fixtures.

There was talk of playing games behind closed doors, but even this, with security staff, television crew, and playing staff, could well have amounted to 100 people or more at the stadia.

In any case, the situation is at a stage where all possible precautions need to be taken. Leagues across the world have already shut down, and even if the situation is more serious in Europe, for example, right now, it is not as if we should simply sit and wait for an Italy-like scenario.

It is a deeply sad situation. This week was set to take the title race up a notch, with Mamelodi Sundowns scheduled to host Orlando Pirates this evening, and Kaizer Chiefs set to welcome Bidvest Wits tomorrow. Now it is unknown whether the season will finish at all. The prognosis across the world is that the spread of this virus has not peaked, and so the speculation has to be as to whether leagues will simply have to call a finish to their seasons.

For the time being, PSL chairman Irvin Khoza says they have only postponed fixtures for this week and this weekend, but it is inevitable that more will have to be called off, unless there is a miraculous drop in cases in South Africa.

Obviously the safety of people has to take precedent over the globe’s insatiable appetite for the beautiful game.

So what happens if the season is simply cut off at the knees. There are several scenarios possible, and it will ultimately be up to the PSL to make a decision. For me, however, there is only one real conclusion that can be drawn – the season simply has to be declared null and void.

Kaizer Chiefs fans may argue that with their team top of the table, they should be given the Absa Premiership crown. This, however, would be ludicrously unfair on the teams in pursuit below them in the table. Any trophy handed over under these circumstances is not a trophy at all.

For the teams facing relegation, too, there would have to be the opportunity for another shot in the Absa Premiership. This is hard, obviously, on a side like Ajax Cape Town, currently leading the GladAfrica Championship, but again, an incomplete season, is not a season. Who is to say the Urban Warriors would not have collapsed and lost the title to Swallows FC? Or another team.

The only place where positions in the table can really count, is for qualification for next season’s Confederation of African Football competitions, if indeed next season happens at all. In this instance, it is fair that Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns play in the 2019/20 Caf Champions League, and that SuperSport United make it into the 2019/20 Caf Confederation Cup.

If this is unfair on teams that have played fewer games, or unfair in general, some sort of decision would have to be made on this matter, for these competitions to go ahead. Unless Caf just want to start from scratch and go with the same teams that played in their competitions this season. That would be another possibility.

Either way, this is chaos in the footballing world as we know it, with sports fans in general set to suffer an absence of anything live to watch, in the stands or on television, frankly, for quite a while.

Who knows what happens next, but the priority, we must stress again, has to be to keep people safe. As such Safa and the PSL have 1 000% made the correct decision. Imagine if there was a coronavirus outbreak linked to a PSL match? Or if it was spread among PSL players in hot, humid dressing rooms? It is simply not worth the risk.

And so, we will wait and see, without hand-sanitiser and face-masks, for what happens next. Strange and terrifying times indeed.

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