Bafana and Banyana set to make a return to the SABC's television screens
Bafana Bafana and Banyana Banyana are set to make a dramatic return to the SABC's television screens after it emerged that the South African Football Association (Safa) and the public broadcaster are close to clinching a deal for coverage of all national teams.
Acting Safa chief executive officer Russell Paul confirmed to SowetanLIVE that pay channel Supersport will also be part of the deal and talks between all the parties are at an advanced stage.
“For the long term‚ we are in discussions with SABC and those discussions are very positive‚” said Paul.
“At the same time‚ we have also been in discussions with SuperSport around what options they have.”
Paul revealed that a deal between the three parties could be struck in the coming weeks.
“We believe that within the (next few weeks) we will be able to make a positive announcement to the public of South Africa‚" the Safa boss said.
"Talks are at a very advanced stage between ourselves and the SABC‚ and between ourselves and SuperSport. The talks include all the properties that we have as Safa.”
SuperSport declined to comment and the pay channel said they do not discuss negotiations in public before they are finalised as part of their protocol. SABC had not responded to questions sent by SowetanLIVE at the time of publishing the story.
The news will come as a relief to the nation's soccer lovers‚ especially those without access to pay-TV‚ who have watched Bafana and other national teams haphazardly since last year.
Safa's broadcast agreement with the cash-strapped SABC expired in April last year and national team matches played at home have disappeared off the screens as the public broadcaster tried to come to grips with crippling financial losses and debt.
Supersport have been able to plug the gap in some instances and televised away national team matches‚ including Bafana‚ Banyana and junior national teams' participation in international tournaments.
It remains to be seen how the deal will be structured as Safa said last year the SABC owed them millions from the previous agreement that ended in April.
Earlier this year the SABC failed to televise some of Bafana’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers as the two parties could not agree on the valuation of the broadcast rights‚ leaving millions of fans around the country frustrated.
At the centre of the impasse was Safa’s rejection of a R10m offer from the SABC and the football body sticking to its demand of R110m annually for the broadcast rights to all the SA national teams.
The public broadcaster's financial challenges are well documented and the start of the PSL season in August was blacked out on SABC television and radio after an agreement could not be reached with SuperSport and SABC.
Matches were eventually broadcast weeks later after Sports minister Nathi Mthethwa intervened.
The SABC also failed to televise the hugely popular Two Oceans Marathon in April and the broadcast of the Comrades Marathon was saved at the eleventh hour by then Sports minister Tokozile Xasa.