PSL loses its Stars
PSL loses its Stars

Posted in News on Jul 28, 2002.

The Castle Premiership will be without Ria Stars and Free State Stars when the new season kicks off, with both sides opting to accept the league's purchase of their franchise.

Acting PSL chairman Irvin Khoza made the announced at the league’s new offices in Doornfontein on Monday and added that the decision to reduce the league was not an easy one. “Those teams will have the right to sell all their players but their status becomes part of our history,” Khoza said.

Limpopo side Ria Stars were expected to take the payout due to their financial constrains but it came as a surprise when Free State Stars - the only Premier League side in the Free State region - came out as the other team to leave the Premier League.

"Our decision to sell was based on the offer presented to us by the PSL,” said Ria Stars co-director Ria Ledwaba. “We realised that last season was the most difficult one for us in terms of a number of obligations and we have learnt that if you operate without a sponsor the possibility is that you might get relegated.”

"History has also taught us that teams which were relegated in the past did not have sponsors and we did not want to be part of that history because to us relation is failure,” Ledwaba said.

"But this decision has other options where we can buy another team and bring it back into the Premier League but we have not yet decided.”

The decision by Free State Stars to sell might have come at the eleventh hour following a revelation by Khoza that he had a meeting on Sunday with FS Stars chairman Mike Mokoena - who was not present at the announcement.

Five PSL teams were reportedly interested in selling their status but after intensive negotiations led by Khoza, it was the two Stars, which gave up their existence. According to Khoza, the other teams could not get the clearance to sell from club stakeholders.

"One of the alternatives was to vote," he said. “A precedence set in the past that if you want to reduce the league you must do it in an annual general meeting or special general meeting where you vote but we have discovered that in terms of our new constitution relating to business practices, cannot vote each other out of business.”

Khoza said in view of that, the league to look into other alternatives, which meant invoking a resolution taken when the Premiership was formed in 1996.

"When the Premier Soccer League was formed in 1996-97 a resolution was taken that we would start with 18 teams and down the line we would reduce the number down to 16,” said Khoza.

Former PSL chief executive Trevor Phillips brought up the question of reduction of the league in 1998 but the board of governors shot down the idea at that time. “The board felt it was not opportune at that time to reduce the league to give other teams the benefits of the new system,” Khoza said.

Since the start of the Premier division teams have benefited from the monthly grants to the tine of R300 000 a month and a reduction would have denied some of the teams which helped to establish the new league financial rewards.

But the reduction of the league was eminent as smaller teams without sponsorships. The long soccer season – especially in the years of the World Cup and African Nations Cup - also had a negative impact with players getting little or no time to rest at the end of the season.

Khoza also revealed that a recognition agreement between the league and the Players’ Union was another motivating factor in the reduction of the league.

The recent speech by Fifa president Sepp Blatter, who called on all national associations to take corrective measures in ensure that players have enough rest. This came after the early exit from the World Cup by heavyweights Argentina and France.

"The reduction of the league will also give most of the clubs time to organise their own pre-season competitions to prepare sufficiently for the new season,” Khoza said. “For the first time we will have some breathing space as up till now we have been suffocating.”

Due to these latest developments, the new season will only kick-off a week later to allow the league sufficient time to redraft the fixtures. But the BP Top Eight will go ahead as planned next weekend.

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