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PSL transfer tangle: it’s all about the big bucks – but should it be?

With the curtain closed on the 2014/15 Premier Soccer League (PSL), it’s time to shift our focus to the transfer window, a time when football fans can expect to see jaw-droppingly expensive player transfers between teams. Whether it is players moving across to rival teams, or coaches hopping on the  merry-go-round – the transfer window is a kind of entertainment in itself! But MICHAELSON GUMEDE reckons some players are being paid more than they deserve. 

This year, the transfer window, which traditionally opens in June (official date still to be confirmed), has snuck up on us early. Recent wage disputes surrounding two senior Kaizer Chiefs players have the media abuzz. According to media reports, Itumeleng Khune earns about R400,000 per month, and has allegedly demanded an additional R300,000 a month on his contract-renewal deal. And fresh from being crowned Player of The Season, Tefu Mashamaite, who earns about R180,000 a month, has demanded four times more than his current wage.

Rumours that contract negotiations have broken down between the club and the players’ agents come as no surprise then. However, Mashamaite refused to comment on his future and categorically told SABC radio he was still contracted to Kaizer Chiefs. The Daily Vox contacted Jazzman Mahlakgane, Mashamaite’s agent, who stated that he did not comment on such issues.

When these diva tendencies arise, many a football fan has been left wondering whether these huge sums of money could be better spend on developing and incentivising other players in the PSL.

The highest-paid players in the PSL include Mamelodi Sundowns’ Teko Modise and Kaizer Chiefs midfielder Siphiwe Tshabalala, who both earn about R450,000 a month. It is clear that as a PSL player, you will only make the big bucks if you play for the big three: Orlando Pirates, Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns.

For the “poorer” teams, this is unfortunate. However, the issue is not who is rich and who is poor, it is about how players perform; as such, they should be paid in accordance with their performances.

PSL chairman Irvin Khoza told The Daily Sun on Friday that not many clubs could afford those high salaries. “I can’t afford it myself. Some players earn more than me. If others’ players can do that, good luck, we can’t compete. We can’t blame them,” said Khoza.  However, despite Khoza coming over all coy, let’s not forget that Benni McCarthy was among the top earners – with a salary of about R450,000 a month – during his stint at Khoza’s Orlando Pirates.

A notable example of a player raking in the millions, is that of Kaltego Mphela, who has scored only just eight goals in 32 games for the past two seasons, but commands a market value of about R10-million. Meanwhile, the top goal-scorer of the PSL last season, Moekesti Sekola, who banged in 14 goals, is worth far less than Mphela at about R2-million, according to the global transfer market.

Why is this the case? This trend of has been set by Mamelodi Sundowns, which can entice almost any player they want with a huge salary. If a player earns R60,000 a month, and Sundowns (or any other team for that matter) promises to pay R150,000 a month, in all likelihood, they’ll take the deal. This  is an unfair advantage enjoyed by the top teams who are able to poach the best players easily.

Let’s remember just how much money the PSL is bringing in. In August 2011, SuperSport International and the PSL signed a five-year television broadcasting deal worth more than R2-billion. Sponsorship, merchandising, ticket sales, and prize money also add quite a few millions to that total. One may argue that the players deserve to have a big slice of the cake. They are the stars of the show; therefore, they deserve to be remunerated comprehensively.

I am not suggesting that we starve our players; all I am saying is let us pay our players according to their performance, not simply because someone in a suit felt they had to make a deal in order to snatch a footballer from another team. The tables are skewed between players that earn big bucks and those that earn peanuts. I think there should be a budget cap – this will not only enable clubs to maintain salaries, but ensure that players are properly compensated across the board, rather than only a few individuals raking it in.

 

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– Featured image, via the Mamelodi Sundowns website; Graphic: designed by Safiyyah Patel. 

 

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