Fans of SA soccer face TV blackout

Dennis Mumble (CEO of SAFA)
Dennis Mumble (CEO of SAFA)
Image: Lee Warren

The nation’s soccer lovers face a Bafana Bafana and Banyana Banyana blackout after it emerged on Monday that the cash-strapped SABC was too broke to broadcast national team matches.

Attempts to negotiate a new Bafana and Banyana contract have hit a dead end as the SABC owes the SA Football Association (Safa) more than R50m from the previous agreement that ended in April.

Unimpressed Safa CEO Dennis Mumble said that the SABC had displayed an indifferent attitude towards football and there was a strong possibility that Bafana’s 2019 African Nations Cup qualifiers against Libya in September and the Seychelles in October would not be broadcast on television and radio.

“They [SABC] have just been refusing to enter into an agreement with us because they say they do not have any money‚” Mumble said.

“So what they want to do is substantially reduce the fee that we charge them or they paid during the last contract.

“We have been negotiating since January of this year and we have not got anywhere because there is no appetite for football on the SABC.

“That is my impression.”

This news will stun the nation’s soccer lovers as they are still reeling after the public broadcaster’s empty coffers led to the SABC failing to broadcast the opening weekend of the Absa premiership.

SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said he was in a board meeting and not available to comment on Monday.

Mumble did not mince his words and questioned the public broadcaster’s commitment to broadcasting the local game.

“In the last two discussions we have had with them‚ and this is with the top leadership of the SABC‚ the position was ‘we do not have money and we want to be a responsible broadcaster and therefore we cannot spend money. Can you please help us convince government to give us money’.

“We are negotiating with a partner who has not commercialised the property that we gave them‚ given that Bafana Bafana is the single most important and valuable sports property in this country by far, but we are not being paid.

“The ratings have shown historically what Bafana have been able to present.”

Vuyo Mhaga‚ spokesperson for minister of sport and recreation Tokozile Xasa‚ said officials hoped to get Safa‚ the PSL and the communications ministry under one roof by the end of the week to tackle the spiralling problem.

‘‘All of us understand the financial situation the SABC finds itself in and engagements with the various parties will happen throughout the week‚” he said.

Safa’s R1bn deal with payTV company Siyaya TV three years ago collapsed when regulations that demand Bafana matches be broadcast by the public broadcaster frustrated the agreement.

“We were forced to do business with the SABC three years ago‚” Mumble said.

‘‘We had a broadcast plan in place that would have given us substantially more money than what we were getting from the SABC but we were forced by government to go to the SABC.”