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PSL back in business

by Staff reporter
04 Apr 2021 at 09:04hrs | Views
AFTER more than a year in the wilderness, the Premier Soccer League (PSL) believe they are ready to resume normal service, albeit under changed circumstances.

PSL chief executive Kenny Ndebele told The Sunday Mail Sport yesterday that elite clubs have already started conducting Covid-19 tests on players, coaches and officials.

The league had also applied to ZIFA to open the transfer window allowing players to move ahead of the start of the season.

There has been no Premiership action since Zimbabwe went into its first lockdown on March 31 last year, as Government stepped up measures to contain the spread of coronavirus.

However, clubs such as Black Rhinos, Ngezi, Herentals and Triangle have led the way in testing their players, while newboys Cranborne Bullets, CAPS United, Manica Diamonds, Chicken Inn and champions FC Platinum are among those expected to compete the exercise early this week.

And the progress shown has left Ndebele a satisfied man.

PSL is presently pursuing deals to broadcast the top-flight, whose first tournament will be played under a cluster format.

"I am confident that the clubs are ready for the restart. We may have problems with the movement of some players, but we wrote to ZIFA to open the transfer window for the restart so that clubs can register new players," said Ndebele.

"The clubs have not raised objections to grouping of teams. The idea behind this is to minimise travelling and accommodation costs for the clubs, though a few clubs will be travelling.

"We are negotiating with a number of broadcasters and hope to conclude with all of them.''

Club doctors, he said, had been mandated to test players and staff.

While the league would encourage vaccination, it is, however, not compulsory.

"A number of clubs have done the Covid-19 testing at their own costs. Club doctors are in charge of testing.

"The PSL Medical Committee is supervising the process. We expect all clubs to have tested by next week Friday. A few clubs will be starting vaccinations after the first testing programme.

"Vaccinations are voluntary. No player or official will be forced to vaccinate."

Ndebele said the PSL would be guided by the agreement which ZIFA and the Footballers Union of Zimbabwe (FUZ) would have struck over player contracts.

"The issue of player contracts will be addressed by the association. Clubs are advised to use the FIFA-approved standard contract. Any variations have to be agreed between the association and FUZ," he said.

In deciding the next competition, PSL will also continue to be guided by the outlook on the pandemic and how effective clubs are keeping it in check in terms of compliance with health protocols.

The onus is on clubs, Ndebele added, to do a thorough job that would satisfy the authorities and help in deciding on the gradual return of fans.

"The next stage will be determined by how we follow protocols and Government directives. Remember that the matches will be played behind closed doors.

"It's important to organise the resumption well so that we can expedite the return of fans."

The PSL drew up a 12-page proposal on the safe return of the game, which was adopted by the elite clubs.

"The PSL secretariat, in consultation with the PSL Sports Medicine Committee, will lead and implement Covid-19-related decisions on return to sport.

"Teams will be placed in groups and participate in the competition to be hosted by four cities, these provisionally being Harare, Bulawayo, Mutare and Zvishavane.

"Players will train and play football matches coming from their respective basis," read part of the proposal.

Emphasis will be on participants being transported to and from training matches by their respective clubs.

The participants and officials would also be encouraged to follow all health protocols and guidelines.

Testing will be done on a regular basis as prescribed in the Covid-19 protocols.

Further, all matches will initially be played behind closed doors.

The move to reduce the number of cities and venues to be used was also influenced by the need to cut down on the travelling between cities and towns.

"To restart football safely, a competition has to be introduced where inter-city or long-distance travelling is minimised for purposes of reducing the spread of the Covid-19 virus as well as cutting costs.

"Clubs shall responsible for the upkeep and camping of their football club during the competition," added the proposal.

There are high expectations fans would be afforded a chance to watch the games from the comfort of their homes upon successful negotiation of the broadcast deals.

Source - sundaymail

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