The South African Premier Soccer League (PSL)
Watched by an estimated 13 Million people, the Premier Soccer League (PSL) is one of the most popular sporting events in South Africa. It is the only professional football league in South Africa. Getting the chance to play in this league is the aspiration of many a young South African.
About the PSL
The PSL was founded in 1996 after the National Soccer League reached an agreement with the National Premier Soccer League. It is associated with the South African Football Association (SAFA) and is the administrator of professional football in South Africa.
The PSL consists of two club divisions, the Premier Soccer League and the National First Division (NFD). The premier division consists of 16 teams, who compete against each other in the ‘Premiership’. The season traditionally runs from August to May.
For a decade, the winning team took home a prize of 10 million rand. This number increased to 15 million rand for the 2019/ 2020 season.
Financially the PSL is going from strength to strength. For the 2018/ 2019 financial year, the PSL reported a revenue of 1 billion rand. This being a first in the history of South African football.
How the league works
Each team plays each other twice in a season. Once at home, and once away over the course of 30 games. A total of 480 games are played per season. The winning team collects three points, while in the case of a draw, each team receives a single point. The winner is the team that finishes with the most points at the end of their 30 games.
The team that finishes at the bottom of the PSL log faces the reality of relegation to the NFD. Subsequently, promotion to the PSL awaits the winner of the NFD. The team that finishes 15th in the PSL competes in a round robin playoff with the second and third placed teams in the NFD. The winner of this playoff also gains a place in the PSL for the following season.
History of the PSL
Manning Rangers won the first edition of the PSL in 1997. Coached by Gordon Igesund, the team were surprise winners and managed to take the title ahead of more established clubs.
The following season saw Mamelodi Sundowns win the league for the first time. They have managed to take the title a further eight times over the years. Affectionally known as Sundowns, this club also has the most titles (9 in total) to their name.
Kaiser Chiefs and Orlando Pirates,the big two clubs that dominate South African football, at least from a fan base perspective, share the next most titles with four apiece. Over the 23 PSL seasons completed, only seven teams have managed to win the title.
From a managerial point of view, there have only been five managers who guided a team to the title. This statistic alone, points to the fact that most of these managers have enjoyed success at multiple clubs.
Current state of the PSL
How the log stands
The COVID-19 pandemic has not spared the PSL. As with other sports, the teams are awaiting the green light to compete again. The 2019/ 2020 season is still not complete. As it stands, Kaiser Chiefs top the log, followed by Mamelodi Sundowns and Supersport United. Last season’s champions, Sundowns will be hoping to use their remaining nine games to close the gap on the log leaders. Chiefs fans, however, will be hoping their team stays on course to collect a fifth title, and a first in five years.
Amazulu and Black Leopards occupy the opposite end of the log, and both teams are eager to get back to winning ways.
There are eight teams within eight points of each other at the bottom of the table, and so there is still a lot to play for once the remaining games resume.
Sponsorship of the league
With ABSA announcing their withdrawal as title sponsors of the league from the end of the current season, the PSL has been on the lookout to find an adequate replacement for the forthcoming season. The South African Premier League will no longer be called ABSA Premier League – but what will the new name be?
This is no easy feat. The financial support provided by ABSA over the years has been substantial. Reportedly, there are four contenders to take over the league. An announcement of the new sponsor should take place once the current season concludes. Rumour has it that Betway, who recently agreed a 3-years partnership deal with Cricket South Africa, are one of the four in contention. Should they be announced as title sponsors it would be a lucrative deal for the company., They would then be involved in two of the three big sports within South Africa (the third sport being rugby).
South African football fans are itching to see their favourite teams in action again. We really hope that the PSL gets back to business sooner rather than later.
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