The effects of the Coronavirus across sport and normal life in general have been well documented, the harsh realities of life within the COVID-19 era have forced clubs to resort to reducing wages while other clubs have put their league statuses up for sale.
A league such as the ABSA Premiership is well known for its incredible financial muscle due to multiple commercial deals, partnerships and sponsorships but the COVID-19 pandemic has seen the illustrious league’s top tier clubs struggle to make ends meet due to their inactivity.
League sponsor ABSA recently pulled out of their sponsorship deal with the Premier Soccer League (PSL) while Supersport United (where Zebras defender Thatayaone Ditlhokwe plies his trade) revealed that their 13 year sponsorship with Engen has ended as reported by South African publication Soccer Laduma.
The club’s CEO Stan Matthews painted a bleak picture of how clubs are currently operating during the COVID-19 era, his statements hinted that more clubs around the league are covering more expenses than actually generating income, which could possibly have an effect on how they pay players in the future.
“We’ve seen at club level, various clubs have lost their sponsors, including us. We had a six-year relationship with Engen, they’ve been our team sponsor and given us good funding and good support and all of a sudden we lost that and we haven’t been able to replace it. We’re one of a few clubs that have been hit quite negatively in terms of revenue. What that does is it puts a lot of stress in terms of your resources because it’s not possible to go and acquire players in a market where you’re actually required to sell players just to balance the books. There aren’t many sources of revenue open to clubs beyond sponsorship, grants (and) prize money, the rest is all expenses, it’s a tough business,” he told the South African publication.
Clubs such as Highlands Park (where Botswana’s Lesenya Ramoraka plies his trade) also started cutting players’ wages after encountering financial problems during the lock down. Another worrying topic was raised by the PSL chairman Dr Irvin Khoza who announced that clubs will not receive monthly grants beyond June 30 if the season does not resume, he also underlined that clubs must be prepared to seek financial resources elsewhere to survive.
A club chairman was quoted reacting to Khoza’s statement saying that “football would be doomed because 70 percent of the clubs in the league depend on the monthly grant.” If the league season does not resume clubs will not be given the usual R2.5 million monthly grant that they were previously accustomed to.
The PSL is expected to return if the South African Football Association (SAFA) gives FIFA positive feedback about the COVID-19 lock down, South Africa is currently on level 3 with sports teams permitted to return to training in July.