HomeEditorial CommentPSL must not carry its bleeps, blunders into 2021/22 season

PSL must not carry its bleeps, blunders into 2021/22 season

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FOOTBALL is the most-followed sport in the country. With the 2021 Premier Soccer League (PSL) season set to resume this weekend, there is much hype and fans are expected to troop back to stadiums to rally behind their favourite teams.

The Chibuku Super Cup, although played in empty stadiums due to COVID-19 regulations, set the tone for the kick-off of this year’s football season.

With the relaxation of COVID-19 protocols, vaccinated fans can’t wait for the opportunity to cheer their beloved teams. However, this hysteria can be dampened by the clueless PSL executives, who wantonly peg entry fees beyond the reach of many supporters.

Last week, PSL executives shot themselves in the foot after pegging the cheapest ticket to the Chibuku Super Cup quarter-finals at US$20 for the rest of the ground and US$50 for the VIP enclosure.

These deterring charges saw teams playing the Chibuku Super Cup quarter-finals in almost empty stadiums despite the lifting of the ban on supporters. Fans could not part with a US$20 to watch a football match when they have other pressing issues that need money.

Had PSL made the entry fee affordable for vaccinated fans, more supporters would have been part of the football fiesta, making a good return for the sponsors. It was a sad view that a big team like Dynamos could play before a paltry crowd of not more than 14 fans who had paid to watch their game against army side Black Rhinos at Baobab Stadium in Ngezi last weekend.

Fans’ boycott of matches last week was a strong message to PSL executives that if they continue to charge exorbitant fees, games will be played in empty stadiums, taking away the cheer from the beautiful game.

The message was so strong that it forced the PSL to reduce the entry fees by 50%, but we feel this is still too high. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, PSL games were charging between US$3 and US$5 for the rest of the ground.

It is not a secret that the economy is in a mess and people are struggling to make ends meet, hence people exercise extreme caution on how they use their money. Even PSL teams are hard hit by the tumbling economy and the run-away inflation.

Not all teams in PSL have sponsorship, some survive on gate takings. So the more the number of supporters that come to watch them play, the more money they have for running their clubs.

We urge the PSL executives to bear in mind that the local league faces stiff competition from English Premier League for viewership, especially if major games are played at the same time.

For instance, today there is a Manchester derby pitting the Red Devils and the Citizens to be played 30 minutes before the local league kicks-off with Highlanders taking on Rhinos at the National Sports Stadium.

It becomes a matter of choice between parting with US$10 to watch an inferior local league game or to save the US$10 and enjoy the Manchester City play archrivals Manchester United.

We are not surprised by the way the PSL continues to press the wrong button with regards to pegging entry fees for local league games. It does not need a rocket scientist to know that US$10 is too much for local games.

PSL should know that the more the fans, the merrier the local league excites. It does not benefit the league to play games on empty stadiums because of exorbitant fees.

We know that only 2 000 vaccinated fans are allowed to watch games in the stadiums, but that does not force them to hike fares. Even if they think hiking fares is the best way to control fans, it has showed that it chases them away. PSL should just make games affordable and sell entry tickets on first come first serve basis.

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