Future secure for SA trio at Swedish top-flight club Varbergs
The future of South Africa’s young trio at Swedish top-flight side Varbergs is secure for now as the start to the new league season has been delayed to June due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Keenin Ayer, Tashreeq Matthews and Luke le Roux had been looking forward to beginning the new campaign in just a few weeks’ time, but instead have been given a 10-day break by the club and told to come back on April 6 to start preseason all over again.
Sweden has a short-term, temporary layoff scheme that allows businesses to ease their employee costs. Varbergs have made a request for their players and staff to form part of it.
According to the Swedish government website it works as follows: "The proposal means that the employer's salary costs can be reduced by half while the employee receives more than 90 percent of the salary."
It is meant to ease the salary burden on the club while they do not have match-day and other income, but sporting director Martin Pringle told TimesLIVE it will not have a major impact on the South Africans.
“It is not going to impact them in a big way. We have made the request to the unions to apply the temporary layoffs and we will see what the response is,” Pringle said.
“We don’t know if we will get it. But if we don’t get it, they will still be paid.”
Pringle admitted that it has been a frustrating period for the players, and there is every chance that the start of the Swedish league season will be pushed beyond June, but it is a date they are working towards.
“It can change almost by the hour, the simple answer is we don’t know when the league will start,” he said. “We have given the players 10 days off now – it was getting hard to keep them motivated with everything that is going on.
“But they are all fit because we have essentially had our preseason already. It will take a little time to get going, but everybody is in the same boat. At least that June date gives us something to look forward to.”
Pringle, a former striker who played for Portuguese giants Benfica and was a teammate of Shaun Bartlett and Mark Fish at Charlton Athletic in the English Premier League, has been impressed with the way Matthews and Le Roux have settled at the club since their arrival earlier this year.
“Keenin was obviously here with us last year and did very well. He has proven himself. But from what we have seen from Tashreeq and Luke so far, they both have the ability to be very, very good players as well.
“If they continue to progress like they have then I think they will make a very good contribution to our side this season.”