Why Are We Playing On Cabbage Patches?
Considering that the PSL is rated as one of the top leagues in Africa and considering we can do that based on the massive amounts of money flowing into the PSL from sponsors, one would like to think that our final product would look a little better and be a little more polished than most.
You’d like to believe that, at the very least, a massive competition like the MTN8 should not be played on a cabbage patch and resemble an amateur Sunday kick about on some random park pitch. If I was MTN, I’d be banging down the door of the PSL offices demanding an explanation for the playing surface that was made available for the MTN8 fixture held at Coetzenburg Stadium this weekend past where two of our top professional teams did battle. If I was the tournament’s sponsor, I’d be demanding to know, when I’m pumping in so much money to be part of a professional football league, why the thing most people are talking about is the substandard playing conditions of the tournament with which I am associated.
That Ajax Cape Town and Bidvest Wits were forced to play on this cow patch of a park is an absolute disgrace. When considering why stadiums are not full, many people point to the fact that there is no entertaining football being played anymore, but then you have to agree with Gavin Hunt when he says, “You can’t play here (at Coetzenburg Stadium) on this pitch. It is impossible to play in these conditions. That’s why I left one or two (of my players) out (to avoid injury).”
Now the PSL have come out and said that they had inspected the pitch and that two weeks prior the pitch, in their opinion, was fine to play on and that possibly rain had caused damage since their pitch inspection. Can you imagine if MTN dealt with their customers the same way? “Yes, we know the network is down and you can’t really get a clear line, but we checked the network two weeks ago and it was fine. Maybe there was a storm and it did some damage to our networks, but hey, deal with it. Get on with it and if there is a lack of quality, so be it.” I can tell you right now that MTN would quickly lose customers. And maybe that’s why the PSL is losing customers and why stadiums are empty. There are just too many “deal with it” scenarios surrounding our football.
In the Soccer Laduma Supporters Club we have asked the question to soccer supporters as to why they stay away from stadiums, and the same answers that were given five years ago continue to be given now: “Tickets are too expensive”, “My team plays at a different stadium all the time so it doesn’t feel like home”, “I don’t feel safe in the stands at stadiums”, “I never get to sit where my ticket says I can sit”, “I can get to stadiums, but getting back from stadiums when there is no reliable transport available is a problem”, “They smoke dagga in the stadiums”, “The soccer is not as entertaining as it used to be”, “I can watch it on TV and watch the EPL at the same time”, “If I can’t take my kids because it’s not safe, then I won’t go.” And currently the response seems to be a resounding, “Deal with it!” I’m not sure that is the right approach to create a better soccer league in South Africa - a league that puts fans first… fans who, at the end of the day, are the reason every sponsor comes on board with South African soccer.
Finally, before going, I would like to thank our loyal readers who continue to buy our newspaper week in and week out. The latest circulation figures are out and once again Soccer Laduma is the leading single copy seller in SA, and the gap between us and those behind us is widening. By single sales we mean sales starting from zero each and every week and then having our readers go and buy their copy of that edition. We have no presales, no subscription sales, no bulk sales and no sampling copies out there. That is pretty powerful and a huge indication that we have some extremely passionate readers who are interested and engaged in their newspaper on a weekly basis. For that we thank you! Please continue to let us know how to stay relevant and accessible to you. If we keep growing at this rate, it won’t be long before we are on top of the pile for overall sales in this country, confirming the fact that soccer passion is alive and well in the South African soccer supporter as long as you do right by them.