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SA SOCCER NEWS
First Division Structure To Be Revised 02/10/03
The First Division is set to undergo a major face-lift next season with the Inland and Coastal Streams being merged into one 14-team league, with another two teams to be added from the two Premiership sides which are relegated.

The turnaround in the South African First Division Soccer League is what most Division One teams have been dreaming about.

"When (PSL CEO) Trevor Phillips first came here in 1995 he made a proposal for a national First Division soccer league, but no one was prepared to take it up when he left. This kind of competition for the top eight spots is going to improve our soccer," Nkani Dube, the owner of Alexandra United, told SASoccer365.com.

"With the money that Trevor is putting into this division the clubs are going to not only be able to play all their games, but still manage to look after their players as well.

"We may not happy about the number of teams that automatically get promoted but I think that Trevor Phillips is a bulldog when it comes to football. This should have happened long back but Trevor knew what is good for SA soccer and did the right thing for every one," the excited Dube added.

The restructured First Division is going to see the Inland division, which has 16 teams, and the Coastal Stream, which has 14 teams, merged to make way for a single 16 team national First Division league.

The 16 teams that are going to make it into the First Division are assured of a monthly grant of R270 000, the same as Castle Premiership clubs.

"The teams are happy about what Trevor Phillips has done but we are not very happy with the number of teams that goes up in to the PSL league. Only the top team will be automatically promoted but the second placed team will have to play in a play-off with the team that will end 15th in the PSL, which we think is very unfair," Collin Gie of Coastal Division club F.C Fortune told SASoccer365.com.

This news could well end up being one of the most significant changes in South African soccer in many years as it will allow clubs to pay their players good salaries which will mean that the players will be able to become full-time professionals and train twice a day.

Amateur players will now be striving even harder than before to make the grades at First Division clubs as they would see it as a way of earning a good salary and being able to support their families.

This should have a ripple effect as it will serve to improve the standard of play and thereby bring in more spectators to the First Division matches. Having a strong First Division will obviously mean that the standard of the Castle Premiership will also improve, something which Philips most likely had in mind when he devised the new structure.

There is also more money pouring in to the lower divisions, such as the Vodacom Second Division and the Castle Third Division and so the future of the beautiful game is starting to look rosy for the first time in many years.

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