League kicks off with two streams
The National First Division will at last kick off after it was unanimously agreed that it be divided into two streams with their monthly grants tripled.
This announcement was made by Irvin Khoza, chairman of the Premier Soccer League at a press conference in Parktown yesterday.
Khoza said agreement was reached after a seven-hour marathon meeting that ended in the unanimous approval of the league's proposal that the First Division be divided into two streams, inland and coastal, comprising eight teams each.
"We also agreed that the monthly grants be increased from the present R50000 to R150000 a month with accommodation and travel being paid for by the PSL," Khoza said.
The league, which is still keeping options open for Tokyo Sexwale's Mvelaphanda Group as sponsors, will in the meantime spend around R54 million from its own coffers to administer and run the two streams.
Khoza said it has been decided that the teams will play three rounds, home and away with the third round being determined by the luck of the draw or spin. That means some teams may be lucky to play two home games with each team playing a total of 21 games by the end of the season.
The top two teams in each stream will then engage in a final from which the winner gains promotion to the elite league while the runners-up go into playoffs with the two second placed teams in each stream and the PSL club in 15th position, for the other promotion spot. It is envisaged that in two or three seasons this will be phased out and the winners of each stream will gain automatic promotion.
The tentative kickoff is September 28, a date arrived at after taking into account logistical considerations like the availability of stadiums and the need to re-draft the fixtures.
"As things stand, the league will be wound up by March and we are looking at having a competition running until at least May when all leagues wrap up their activities.
"We are also trying to investigate how many players in that division are eligible for calls from their national teams so that we know how that will affect the games during the Africa Cup of Nations in January and February," said Khoza.
He said the decision to split the league was taken because without it, Gauteng teams would eventually dominate and be the only ones playing in the professional wing, which would undermine the idea of it being a national league.