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Nigeria can learn from South Africa’s intervention in PSL’s rescue

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The Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) can actualize its aim of becoming one of the best in the continent if the Federal Government takes a cue from its South African counterpart. South Africa’s Professional Soccer League (PSL) recently faced an uncertain future until the government came to its rescue.

At the brink of collapse, the Premier Soccer League (PSL) of South Africa was salvaged following negotiations initiated by the South African Government through the office of the Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture.The country’s major free-to-air broadcast station, South Africa Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), had announced it would not be willing to renew the partnership in which it subleased the broadcast rights from MultiChoice for a fee of R280 million for 144 matches annually for five years. SABC cited a loss of R1.3 billion in the course of five years in relation to the broadcast of PSL matches.

The unavailability of the games on television was to trigger moves of withdrawal by a major sponsor like ABSA, while MTN was still locked in negotiations with PSL for a possible renewal.However, after several weeks of the contractual dispute, PSL and its Broadcast Sponsors, MultiChoice and SABC, reached a deal to renew the partnership for another five years.

The South Africa Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa, initiated meetings that held all through the week with PSL and its partners.
South African football fans were left disappointed at the start of August by a ‘blackout’ of all PSL matches on SABC TV and radio as the 2019/20 season commenced.

Yet, following the deal brokered by the Minister of Sports, Mthethwa and Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, all matches will now be televised live on the free channel-to-air, including on radio.

According to a statement by the SABC, the new deal is for five years. Mthethwa thanked all participants for their positive approach, which ensured that ordinary South Africans are now able to access football in their country saying: “The government recognizes the importance of sport and in this instance, football, in promoting national cohesion and commends all stakeholders involved.”PSL Chairman, Irvin Khosa said: “We welcome the Sports Ministers’ intervention and his willingness to facilitate a commercial agreement with the SABC.

We are committed to bringing as much access to South African football as is possible to the football-loving public, in a manner that ensures the sustainability of the PSL as one of the top 10 football leagues in the world.With adequate financial rewards and windows to showcase their skills, South African footballers prefer to stay and ply their trade in their country, rather than rush abroad en masse for professional fulfilment. But that is not the case with Nigerian footballers.

The Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) has struggled to be on television after the withdrawal of SuperSport midway into a five-year deal, citing similar financial difficulties. The League Management Company (LMC), Nigeria’s equivalent of PSL, has explored several options to bring the match to Nigerians through television, including seeking an arrangement with the government-owned Nigeria Television Authority (NTA).LMC now have the South African example to copy if it is serious in scaling up the league and public interest.


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