Kaizer Chiefs and the Premier Soccer League (PSL) will not proceed to the South Gauteng High Court on Tuesday for a long-awaited court case which could have made a mockery of professional football in South Africa.
Instead, the two parties have reached an agreement, and the High Court officials will make the announcement on Tuesday morning.
The National Soccer League (NSL), the PSL’s trading name, had decided to approach the high court with the view to overturn the arbitration outcome by Nazeer Cassim SC, the SAFA-appointed official. Cassim ruled that the two Premiership matches that Chiefs failed to honour should be replayed.
The matches in question are Chiefs’ two DStv Premiership games against Cape Town City at FNB Stadium and Lamontville Golden Arrows in Durban during December last year.
While the NSL’s appeal was set aside for Tuesday, May 10, the PSL decided that it carry out the order of the SAFA arbitrator and play the matches. The PSL found two convenient dates and the matches were played. As it turned out, Chiefs lost both matches 2-1 in the space of four days.
PSL agreed to play the matches with the proviso that should it win the High Court appeal, the result of the matches would be declared null and void. Also, the two opposing teams, City and Arrows, would be declared 3-0 winners.
In early December, Chiefs suffered a coronavirus outbreak of massive proportions and just over 30 players and members of the technical staff fell victim. The club was unable to operate and duly informed the PSL that it could field a team, and it would be guided by health protocols and the government’s latest Covid-19 health regulations.
After a few days’ silence, the PSL’s football department and the league’s executive committee dismissed Chiefs’ request to postpone games even though the club was physically unable to do so. The football department and the league’s executive committee pointed to an earlier ruling that matches will not be called off for coronavirus-related reasons.
What the PSL did not point out was that they did not foresee a time when 30-50 people in one club would be struck by the coronavirus. The ruling was fine when clubs had the odd player or two down with the infection.
Elsewhere in the football world, matches were postponed after several players in one club took ill.
However, since the PSL had already taken decisions against clubs that previously defaulted, it dug its head in the sand and refused to consider Chiefs’ request.
After the arbitration ruling, SAFA were left with bloodied noses and appealed to the High Court.
After Chiefs lost both matches that were replayed, they have nothing to gain from winning at the High Court. The only difference is that Arrows and City will be awarded 3-0 outcomes instead of their 2-1 margins. In both cases, it will improve their goal differences and that could be significant at the end of the season clubs should finish with the same number of points.
It is very likely that the High Court would have ruled in Chiefs’ favour on the basis that health protocols and the government’s latest Covid-19 health regulations could not be overlooked and therefore matches could not take place.