13 May 2020 – In an ideal Covid-19-free world, the perfect solution to deciding the Absa Premiership title race would be to complete the 2019/20 season on the pitch.
But we are living in unprecedented times, with new positive infections and deaths confirmed daily and the South African government predicting an increase in the infection rate in September.
Completing the current season becomes a tougher task as FIFA have given governing bodies around the world until 31 July to complete the domestic campaigns.
As European leagues are making plans to restart their seasons – with the German Bundesliga set to resume as soon as Saturday – all avenues should be explored in resuming the Absa Premiership.
The Premier Soccer League (PSL) and South African Football Association (SAFA), with the backing of governing body FIFA, have all confirmed their commitment to completing the 2019/20 season. A previous column published by Sport24 lists how this could be done in a safe way.
Next season’s start date could also be delayed as a last resort to ensure the current season’s completion, with the 2020/21 campaign starting in as late as January and completed within the calendar year, such is the case in countries like Brazil (May-December) and the MLS (February-November).
If soccer still cannot be resumed with guarantees of player safety, then the fairest method would be using a points-per-game (PPG) system to determine the final league standings.
A PPG system is the average number of points scored by a team in a sport, over the course of a series of games or a whole season.
Again, this is not a perfect solution, but the fairest one.
A season cannot be declared null and void as it would pose more questions, and more importantly, more lawsuits if this decision was taken.
Which teams would compete in next season’s CAF competitions? Who would compete in the MTN8? Who would be relegated? Also, try telling Ajax Cape Town and Swallows FC that they now have no chance of promotion.
As in France’s Ligue 1, the points-per-game system should be used in the Absa Premiership to determine the final standings and the top eight positions.
Relegation should be ruled out, differing from the French league – which saw Bongani Zungu’s Amiens demoted alongside Toulouse – with two teams still being promoted.
Applying the same PPG method in the GladAfrica Championship would see Ajax CT and Swallows promoted, making it an 18-team Absa Premiership league for next season.
Final league standings after applying the PPG system:
1. Kaizer Chiefs (PPG – 2.18) Points – 65.45
2. Mamelodi Sundowns (PPG – 2.09) Points – 62.85
3. Bidvest Wits (PPG – 1.80) Points – 54.28
4. Orlando Pirates (PPG – 1.73) Points – 52.17
5. SuperSport United (PPG – 1.66) Points – 50
6. Maritzburg United (PPG – 1.62) Points – 48.75
7. Golden Arrows (PPG – 1.39) Points – 41.73
8. Highlands Park (PPG – 1.29) Points – 38.75
9. Bloemfontein Celtic (PPG – 1.21) Points – 36.52
10. Cape Town City (PPG – 1.17) Points – 35.21
11. Stellenbosch FC (PPG – 1.12) Points – 33.75
12. Chippa United (PPG – 1.08) Points – 32.5
13. Baroka FC (PPG – 0.95) Points – 28.75
14. Polokwane City (PPG – 0.95) Points – 28.75
15. AmaZulu FC (PPG – 0.95) Points – 28.75
16. Black Leopards (PPG – 0.83) Points – 25
The above table shows that despite Mamelodi Sundowns narrowing the gap at the top of the table in the weeks prior to the season being halted, Kaizer Chiefs would still be crowned as champions.
Bidvest Wits would be the biggest climbers – up from sixth position to third – followed by Orlando Pirates in fourth who would switch places with SuperSport United in fifth.
Maritzburg United (6th), Golden Arrows (7th) and Highlands Park (8th) would round out the top eight positions for next season’s MTN8 competition.
Ajax Cape Town and Swallows FC would make a return to the top-flight to make it an 18-team league.
In the following 2020/21 season, if the PSL chose not to keep the number of teams at 18, then three teams could be automatically relegated with one Absa Premiership side (placed 15th) going into a promotion/relegation playoff.
Lastly, it wouldn’t be fair to declare the season null and void as Kaizer Chiefs have consistently been leading the standings and it would be unfair to rob any side of a league title.