Premier Soccer League (PSL) chair Dr Irvin Khoza says that its their wish to have fans back in the stadium but admitted a decision is out of their hands and will need to come from the government.
Khoza was spoke to the media on Tuesday and while the press conference was focused on the sale of Bloemfontein Celtic to Royal A<, the media use the opportunity to try and get some much-needed answers out of the PSL chairman.
Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic back in March 2020, fand and indeed the media, other than those broadcasting matches on television, have not been allowed to cover PSL matches live at the stadiums.
While the issue of fans is undoubtedly a big one, it is understandable that the decision does not lie with the PSL, however, when it comes to the media in attendance it seems something else is at play.
“Let’s talk about the media [returning to the stadium] first. So there was a constraint on the numbers that we agreed upon, which is 165 in the stadium,” said Khoza when asked why the media hadn’t been able to return to the stadiums.
“But the media itself … all of them want to be part of the action and that’s where our challenge is at the moment. It’s about how do we deal with this.”
“I see now that there might be some changes coming which may allow us [to increase the numbers],” he added as the vaccination roll out continues.
However, what was striking is that Khoza said that the league has had issues with accreditation of the media, which in a pre-covid world was not an issue.
“Who to accredit and who not to because we’re in a space of content, which is sacrosanct, and there’s money in our content. How to deal with that content, because there may be people who are doing other things, which are competition to what we do with our sponsors in the league.
“How do we deal with it [these matters] without limiting the liberties of the people of the media who must have access to what is happening on the field of play?
“So that’s the kind of constraints we are dealing with. But hopefully, as time moves on, we’ll be able to adapt and change.”
The decision not to have media in the stadium has ravished the football journalism industry in the country, while journalists in other coded such as rugby and cricket have been back in the stadiums since last year.
With regard to the fans, though, Khoza admitted they need to follow guidance from the government.
“It’s a question of the government, we can’t make a determination on that,” he said. “It’s our wish to see what we’ve seen in the EPL [English Premier League] and Euro. But I’m told all those people have been vaccinated.
“I know that the media issue is sensitive. It’s a question of how many you are going to make available to the media houses,” he concluded.
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