14 May 2020 – The South African Football Association (SAFA) and the Premier Soccer League (PSL) are working around the clock to finalise ways of resuming football in the country.
All sport was brought to a halt shortly after South Africa recorded its first positive coronavirus case in March.
SAFA and the PSL have assembled a task team and are looking at ways to conclude the 2019/20 Absa Premiership season. They have until the end of July to do so, as per a directive from FIFA.
If the season cannot be completed, Sport24 readers are split between whether current log leaders Kaizer Chiefs should be handed the title based on the current standings.
Tashreeq Vardien and Baden Gillion state their respective cases and discuss whether the Glamour Boys should be awarded the title if the 2019/20 season is in fact cancelled.
How do you feel the PSL should decide the 2019/20 title race assuming the season won’t be concluded by the 31 July deadline? Let us know via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
CASE FOR | No champs, scrap season! – Tashreeq Vardien
Amakhosi are in the driving seat and looked set to secure a fifth Absa Premiership title given the form that Ernst Middendorp’s side have been in during the campaign.
Chiefs currently sit on 48 points with eight matches remaining, while Mamelodi Sundowns, their nearest title challengers, have nine games to play and 44 points in total.
Before the enforced lockdown due to the coronavirus, the Brazilians were on a role and it was clear they’d be pushing the Glamour Boys all the way to the last match of the season as they look to defend their title.
I’ve seen teams in the Premier League (England) and La Liga (Spain) win the league from Sundowns’ position before with as many as 10 games left to be played in the season.
In fact, during the 2013/14 season, Sundowns trailed log leaders Chiefs by 10 points – yet still snatched the Absa Premiership title by two points after the final matchday.
Mathematically, Sundowns can still win the 2019/20 Premiership crown and four points is not a huge deficit, especially with a match in hand.
It would be cruel to hand the league title to Chiefs if the season is scrapped, even if the points-per-game system is used.
So, if the government fails to give the green light to SAFA and the PSL to complete the season, Chiefs should not be given the title. Instead the campaign should be declared null and void.
CASE FOR | Declaring the season null and void is the worst option – Baden Gillion
UEFA effectively removed the option for European leagues to be “voided” and warned clubs that qualification for next season’s continental competitions must be decided on sporting merit.
The Belgian and French leagues both ended prematurely with Percy Tau’s Club Brugge and PSG declared as champions with a points-per-game system used in Ligue 1.
The Eredivisie ended their season without crowning a winner as two teams – Ajax Amsterdam and AZ Alkmaar – were tied on points.
SAFA under the directive of (Confederation of African Football) CAF have also confirmed their commitment to complete the current Absa Premiership season.
As I’ve mentioned in a previous column, wanting the season declared null and void is short-sighted and causes more problems than solutions.
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.
Instead of debating whether Chiefs deserve the title, what I want is to answer the larger question with the league decided by the PPG system.
It just so happens that Chiefs sit top of the standings and would be declared champions.
The only difference to the directive followed in Ligue 1 is that I would rule out relegation as it would be unfair on teams not to be able to fight to remain in the top-flight.
Amiens have already lodged a lawsuit against Ligue 1 and Ajax Cape Town and Swallows FC would almost definitely do the same if they were denied promotion.
With only 16 teams, the PSL could easily allow those two GladAfrica teams to be automatically promoted to extend the league to 18 teams.