Covid-19: When will the PSL return?

The coronavirus lockdown is on Level 4 in South Africa but football is still suspended across the board. The PSL is trying all they can to save the 2019-20 season. 

While some seasons around Europe and Africa have been cancelled, the PSL remains hopeful of completing the current campaign.

When will the PSL season resume?   

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Danny Jordaan, Nathi Mthethwa & Irvin Khoza, March 2020
Danny Jordaan, Nathi Mthethwa & Irvin Khoza, March 2020

On Thursday, the league had a meeting with South Africa's Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize over the possibility of allowing football to return. 

However, the South African Football Association (Safa) has maintained that no football should be played, even behind closed doors unless the government says it is safe to do so. 

According to PSL chairman Dr Irvin Khoza, the league has a letter from Fifa where football leagues around the world have been given until July 31 to complete their season if they decided to do so. 

The PSL has already six weeks due to the coronavirus outbreak coupled with the lockdown imposed by the government.

This means they will need more than just six weeks to complete the season if they are allowed to go ahead, and it's unclear if they would meet the July 31 deadline set by Fifa. 

Khoza revealed there will be another meeting with the Minister of Health next week Thursday (May 7) to plot the way forward and possibly give direction on whether or not the season can resume.   

Could the PSL season be cancelled? 

In Europe, the Eredivisie declared their season null and void and ended the season without a league champion and promotion/relegation - but some teams, including Bongani Zungu's Amiens SC have threatened legal action as they feel it was an unfair decision.  

That was after the Belgian league made a similar recommendation but with Club Brugge winning the title - the recommendation is yet to be ratified, meaning Percy Tau and Co. are still waiting to hear if they will indeed be handed the league trophy.   

South Africa and the PSL appear to be monitoring what's happening in Europe for direction - and perhaps it is for this reason they haven't decided on what to do next. 

However, the PSL, at this stage, doesn't have any plans to cancel the season with a few club officials totally against the idea of scrapping the campaign. 

Dr Irvin Khoza July 6 2018
Dr Irvin Khoza July 6 2018

PSL's senior communications manager Luxolo September spoke to Goal this week, and he was non-committal on whether or not the season will be annulled and referred all questions to Safa.    

"The season should be annulled based on what? I have nothing to add, honestly," September told Goal.

"I don’t know. What does this mean, why must the league be annulled? 

"I have nothing to say honestly [on whether the PSL has received a letter from Caf], really. No, there was no meeting [of the board of governors] today [Thursday].

"[On whether the games can be back during level one]. You guys must speak to Safa. I don’t work for Safa."

Nonetheless, the country should know on Thursday or Friday the latest if the season will be cancelled or be allowed to go ahead. 

In mid-Apil, Safa set two conditions that will make it possible for the return of all football activities in South Africa:

1. The government should declare that it is safe to do so.

2. That domestic flights are reinstituted. 

But Safa has made it clear that if football returns, then extreme measures should be taken, including the use of masks and gloves by kit managers and sterilisation of soccer balls among other things by all the relevant parties. 

What happens if the PSL season can't be finished?  

At this stage, it's unclear what will happen if the PSL season can't be finished. 

However, Kaizer Chiefs remain top of the log with 48 points from 22 games - and the country is divided on whether or not they should be crowned league champions. 

There are suggestions that Amakhosi should be declared winners if the season can't be finished but others have correctly argued that it won't solve the issue of relegation and promotion. 

Of course, AmaZulu and Black Leopards who sit 15th and 16th on the PSL standings respectively would feel hard done should the PSL season not finish and Chiefs be crowned champions.

Bonginkosi Ntuli of AmaZulu challenged by Lebogang Manyama of Kaizer Chiefs, March 2020
Bonginkosi Ntuli of AmaZulu challenged by Lebogang Manyama of Kaizer Chiefs, March 2020

Again, if the season can't be finished and Chiefs don't win the title, NFD teams such as Ajax Cape Town, Swallows and Uthongathi FC would feel shattered by the decision.      

As previously mentioned, the PSL wants to finish the season, and it remains to be seen how this will be achieved in the next few days.   

What are PSL teams doing during lockdown? 

No PSL club has returned to their training grounds, and teams with resources such as Chiefs, Orlando Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns have had to rely on technological means to monitor what their players are doing while at home. 

The issue of social distancing coupled with lockdown regulations for Level 4 has made it impossible for players to gather and train as a group. 

Other teams with fewer resources have put their trust on players keeping themselves fit during this lockdown after giving them training programmes to follow until there's a clear direction on what will happen next. 

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