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The PSL unable to resume the season on July 18 'due to unavailability of match officials'

Image: PSL

The Premier Soccer League (PSL) has said it will engage its stakeholders as it is unable to resume the 2019-20 season on July 18 “due to unavailability of match officials”.

The PSL made this announcement in a statement on Tuesday night following the conclusion of an earlier virtual meeting of the league’s board of governors‚ comprising the 32 Absa Premiership and GladAfrica Championship teams.

Earlier on Tuesday the SA Football Association (Safa)‚ the mother body entrusted with ultimately passing the PSL’s compliance with the joint Safa-PSL directive on a return to play in a bio-safe environment (BSE)‚ put out a statement saying “the first week of August 2020 is the appropriate date for the commencement of NSL matches”.

The PSL is the trading name of the National Soccer League (NSL).

The Safa statement had indicated that a Fifa refereeing expert had advised a joint liaison committee (JLC) meeting of Safa and the PSL on Monday that it would take two weeks for referees to be at a level to pass match fitness tests for a return to play.

The PSL’s statement read: “The National Soccer League Board of Governors held a virtual meeting today‚ 14 July 2020‚ to consider‚ amongst other things‚ the resumption of the 2019/20 season.

“The Board of Governors noted that the PSL had received permission from the Minister of Sports‚ Arts and Culture on 23 June 2020 to resume the 2019/20 season.

“The PSL had complied with the requirements and ready to resume with the 2019/20 season on 18 July 2020‚ but unable to do so due to unavailability of match officials.

“The Executive Committee has been mandated to re-engage stakeholders regarding the current status quo.”

On Monday PSL chairman Irvin Khoza held a press conference where he said that‚ while Fifa will accept a 2019-20 season going past August 31 if duly informed‚ the league sees such a cut-off date as essential due to pressing financial concerns.

The PSL had been set on a July 18 kickoff to try to achieve this aim. A kickoff in the first week of August will make it extremely difficult for the PSL to complete its Premiership‚ Nedbank Cup and GladAfrica programme by August 31.

Safa has not made it clear why its referees are beginning fitness training apparently later than the PSL teams’ return to training last week.