PSL CEO Trevor Phillips is currently in London, where he gave a talk on the rise of the PSL and South African soccer, as well as the World Cup 2010, at the Birckbeck College University on Wednesday evening.
Business Day, a leading South African newspaper, recently hailed the Premier Soccer League, South Africa's top professional league, as `widely regarded as the richest and the most professionally run league' on the African continent.
This is a remarkable achievement given that, despite the enormous popularity of football in South Africa, as recently as 2002 the league was in danger of being crippled by huge annual financial losses. However, in November 2004 the Premier Soccer League was able to announce a dramatic turnaround with the news that the organisation had actually posted a profit for 2003/2004.
It is widely acknowledged that much of the credit for this achievement lies with the PSL's Chief Executive. Having stabilised the League's fortunes, he is now seeking to build the league through the Gateway 2010 Plan .
Phillips started his career with pharmaceutical company Beecham UK (now GlaxoSmithKline - GSK), reaching the position of General Manager UK. He was head-hunted in 1983 to join the English Football League as its first Commercial Director.
He moved onto the Football Association in 1991, on the formation of the Premier League, as Commercial Director. In 1996 he moved to South Africa to set up the South African Premier League. Having developed the basic administrative and financial structures of the League and recruited and trained the necessary local administrative staff, he returned to the UK in 1999.
In November 2002, with the South African Premier League facing significant financial and organisational problems, he accepted an invitation to return to take over the running of the League. Its financial fortunes have now been restored and the competition is developing as a well run professional league. Phillips has recently been requested by FIFA President, Sepp Blatter, to assist in the formation of professional soccer leagues throughout Africa.
In Wednesday's lecture, he outlined the strategic challenges faced in establishing a professional football league in a developing country like South Africa, against the backdrop of a globalised market for the broadcast of football competitions which sees the PSL competing against the English Premiership, amongst other European leagues, for the attention of South African football supporters.
Beginning with an outline of the historical development of the league, he will then detail the measures taken to establish financial stability in the 2002-2004 period, before going on to discuss the plans of the Premier Soccer League executive for the competition's development over the next five years.
He concluded by explaining how the PSL fits within the wider structure of the football industry in South Africa, most notably regarding how the construction of a successful professional league is playing a critical role in the preparations for the organisation of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.