PREMIER Soccer League chief executive officer Brand de Villiers last night admitted that the unexpected decision to postpone this weekend’s fixtures following the PSL executive committee meeting may have hurt the organisation’s image.
The league released a statement confirming that five of the seven matches scheduled for tomorrow, Sunday and Freedom Day on Monday would be moved to May 6 “in the spirit of fair play” – just 48 hours before the fixtures were due to be played.
Only Orlando Pirates’ clash with Platinum Stars and Free State Stars’ encounter with Mpumalanga Black Aces would be played this weekend.
“The complaint came from different clubs, who wrote to us to voice their concerns regarding the current scheduling of matches,” De Villiers said. “Yes, it is not ideal for us to have postponed the matches, but in the spirit of fair play we thought it was best to move them to May 6.”
Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane had claimed earlier this week that the current fixture list, which would have left fellow title rivals Kaizer Chiefs with two games in hand this weekend, prejudiced his side.
Mosimane was criticised by PSL general manager Derek Blanckensee, who countered his argument by saying the way the season was scheduled to end worked in favour of the Brazilians.
Sundowns hosted a press conference in Pretoria yesterday, where Mosimane spoke ahead of their home match against crosstown rivals SuperSport United. However, that game will no longer take place.
“But Pitso is the last person you would want to listen to,” De Villiers said. “Essentially we wanted clubs who are behind to catch up because some have played 26 and some 28 games. When the clubs wrote to us, we decided to debate the issue and thought the best decision was to move the fixtures. Hopefully we can avoid this in the coming seasons.”
The league season is set to end on May 10, with either Sundowns or Chiefs crowned as champions.
Last night Mosimane welcomed the PSL’s decision to call off the matches.
“It’s not for me to tell the league what to do. What I should do, and maybe everybody else, is to respect this and listen. I think they have made the right call and I accept this even more if they say the main reason for this was fair play,” he said, despite the fact that the Brazilians would have gone eight points clear at the top with a win against SuperSport.
There was a mixture of relief and disappointment from the other coaches.
Bidvest Wits coach Gavin Hunt said: “I don’t think it’s the right thing to do. I would have preferred to play, but what can we do?” Relieved Moroka Swallows coach Zeca Marques said: “This will give us time to plan more and motivate our players. I am happy because it has not affected our preparations.”
The coach of relegation-threatened Polokwane City, Boebie Solomons, said he was happy with the move.
Kaizer Chiefs general manager Bobby Motaung said: “Nothing has changed in our schedule.” – Mazola Molefe