The PSL promotion playoffs are unnecessary, taxing and illogical

On 15 June, Highlands Park after the Tembisa-based side was promoted to the Premier Soccer League (PSL), following three successive wins in the promotion/relegation play-offs. With former Platinum Stars coach Allan Freese mentoring the boys, one cannot cancel out a Leicester City-kind of performance next. But these unnecessarily taxing playoffs should have been given the boot ages ago – we do not need them.

Firstly, it gives other teams an unfair advantage – the playoffs are simply a waste of time. Usually, the Premier Soccer League ends in May and kicks off again in August, while the playoffs go on until mid-June.

This amounts to just about one month of rest for teams engaged in the three-horse battle for promotion, while other teams rest from May until August.

However, this is not the case this year as the 2016/17 PSL campaign is set to kick off in September because of the Olympic Games in Rio. But normally, players do not have enough time to rejuvenate and prepare for the upcoming season.

It is only fair that if teams are going to compete in the same league, they should be afforded the same amount of rest and preparation time.

Having a playoff also means that excelling in the lower divisions could translate to nothing.

Let me explain.

Teams that participate in the playoffs include the National First Division (NFD) runners-up, the third-place finishers and the second-last team on the PSL log.

Now, how is it that teams that finish in the top three are then grouped with a team that was the second-worst performer in their division? If the team that finished 15th in the PSL (in the case of the University of Pretoria), emerges victorious in the playoffs mini-league, it simply means that the two teams from the lower division will somehow not be adequately awarded for their good performances. And this is all thanks to a team that was just about every other team’s bitch.

This is, in the words of Sport and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula, “rolling out a red carpet for mediocrity”. Fortunately, the footballing gods decided to rightfully send AmaTuks to the “dungeon”, as the NFD is known.

The only party that stands to benefit from all of this unnecessary post-season runaround is the PSL. Their coffers surely get injected with enormous amounts of money from television rights, which is probably why this illogical system has not been scrapped. Highlands has qualified with a game to spare – which renders the final two games in the playoffs dead rubber.

While the PSL benefits in revenue, teams are left thin in the pocket, let alone the players’ physical states being weakened. Teams are being exploited by the PSL for capital gain, and for what? The teams stand to lose time and money unnecessarily.

The playoffs simply mean that if you did well, you still need to prove yourself against dismal performers. The PSL should consider a straight swap with the bottom two PSL outfits going straight into the NFD and the winner and runner-up of the NFD moving up to the PSL.

Featured image via Pixabay