PSL CEO Trevor Phillips was in London last week, where he addressed a seminar held at the Birckbeck College University. Amoung other things, Phillips highlighted the need for a dedicated soccer channel on TV...
Phillips' speech was well received and covered topics ranging from the turn-around in the fortunes of the PSL as a business, to the 2010 World Cup, as well as his vision for the creation of a dedicated television soccer channel.
SASoccer365's Anthony McLennan chatted to the PSL boss about the proposed television channel, as well as some other PSL-related subjects...
Q: You mentioned during your speech in London was that you would like to see a television channel dedicated to soccer, can you elaborate on this please.
A: I firmly believe that soccer in South Africa needs to develop a dedicated, digital soccer channel. Of course it would have to be affordable to the mass market, but with the developments in technology, the price should soon come down to an acceptable level.
A dedicated soccer channel would enable us to generate much needed income to improve all aspects of the game, from the top flight, right down to grassroots level.
The bottom line is that South Africa is the only country in the world where the sport supported by the majority of the population, soccer, receives less money than a minority-supported sport such as rugby does. (Soccer receives only a quarter of the amount from TV rights which rugby does).
This is why I feel that we should breakaway from the current constraints we have with the SABC, and form a dedicated soccer satellite channel, which as I said before, would have to be affordable to the majority of the population. It is also important that money generated from this proposed channel be pumped back into the infrastructure of the game, at all levels.
Q: With regards to clubs attracting sponsors, things certainly seem to be looking up, with VodaCom and Netcare coming on board at Bloemfontein Celtic and Silver Stars respectively. You must be pleased with the progress that is being made in this respect?
A: Yes, we are moving in the right direction, but there is still some way to go. There are still two clubs (Manning Rangers and Dynamos) without sponsors.
The PSL has actively been involved in helping clubs to attract sponsors - we do the presentations for them and help to unlock doors. The key is to convince potential sponsors that it is viable for them to come on board - that the money will be used effectively and to the benefit of the club and the community, and not end up in somebody's back pocket.
Corporate South Africa has been slow to come on board and bridge the gap to local communities, but it is slowly starting to happen.
Q: The current PSL season has provided local soccer fans with plenty of entertainment. There seems to have been an increase in the amount of supporters turning out at the stadiums, while the strikers have also come to the party by keeping the scoring charts ticking over - your take on this?
A: This season the league has been closer than ever. What has also stood out for me is the number of exciting games we have had - there have been a number of high scoring matches, like the 4-3 results between Chiefs and Sundowns, as well as Leopards and Dynamos.
We have also noticed the increase in crowds, which is fantastic. Its going to be a real dog fight down at the bottom of the league as the clubs try to avoid relegation and the remainder of the season promises to be very exciting.
Q: The newly-formed Mvela Golden League seems to have achieved all it set out to do, and more. It has been professionally run and also looks set to reach a thrilling climax. Do you agree?
A: I am very happy with the way the league has gone so far. Credit must go to the First Division manager, Andrew Dipela, for doing a great job. We can see the benefits of the league already, with a couple of Mvela players being called up to the Bafana Bafana side, while others have been signed by Premiership clubs. The only thing that concerns me is the number of foreign-born players in the league, as this could slow down the progress of some of the local youngsters.