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SA’s domestic football league hopes to profit

sports Updated: Nov 25, 2009 23:16 IST
Dhiman Sarkar

The World Cup has trebled the sponsorship package of South Africa’s Professional Soccer League (PSL) all right but Kjetil Siem isn’t sure as to how much football’s biggest event would contribute to grassroots development of the sport in the country.

“That aspect should be in-built into the bid document,” he said here on Tuesday. “I hope some money from the World Cup goes into development of the game here. That really is for the SAFA (South African Football Association) to decide,” the big Norwegian, in charge from the 2007-08 season, said.

Siem also wasn’t sure how much the new stadia would help lift the profile of the league where tickets cost 20 rand.

“Most of South Africa’s football fans live in townships and you get better gates if you hold matches there. Football’s a working class sport here too but the working class has less money than other working classes. Taking matches to the World Cup venues could mean fans being unable to travel,” he said.

In terms of structure, the 16-team PSL, Siem said, isn’t different from a top European league before mentioning what seems like the pet peeve of football administrators in Asia and Africa.

“Thanks to the strength of their brand, the English Premier League is now the world’s best competition but our celebration of their exploits undermines our heroes.”

If the World Cup helps boys wear and buy shirts with names of South African players, Siem would be happy.

“It’s important to build heroes,” he said. To that end, the league has increased television coverage (210 of the 224 games are beamed live) and made it mandatory for the official broadcasters to dedicate three hours of airtime daily.

Post the finals coming to Africa Siem said in 2007 the PSL, started in 1996, signed a broadcasting deal worth 300m rand annually for five years —the biggest sports deal in South Africa. ABSA, a South African bank, pay 80m rand every year as title sponsors. From the broadcasting rights, each team gets 1 million rand a month and 12 million rand after every season, Siem said.

The PSL’s winners’ purse is worth 10m rand, Siem said, adding a team could win 40m rand in prize money in one season from all competitions.

“The total income for the PSL is 500 million every year. We make about as much as Manchester United do from jersey sales alone and yet our teams are expected to beat the best in the world,” Siem said.

Compare the figures with the I-League whose top prize is Rs 40 lakh, whose 10-year marketing deal with the All India Football Federation is worth Rs 270 crore and where clubs get nothing by way of television money and it shows how much catching up Indian football has to do with a country ranked 86th on the latest FIFA list.