CAPE TOWN – There will be some red faces on the Premier Soccer League's executive after the Gauteng Division of the High Court of South Africa ruled that Hilton Epstein's arbitration award will be applied.
This has ensured that the Sekhukhune United Football Club secured automatic promotion to the DStv Premiership next season.
The National First Division (NFD) club Polokwane City and bizarrely the Premier Soccer League (PSL) joined forces and applied to the court to have the arbitration overturned. The Gauteng Deputy Judge President Roland Sutherland ruled that the application be dismissed.
The PSL graciously accepted the outcome and soon afterwards announced Sekhukhune are the GladAfrica Championship winners. The runners-up, Royal AM, will contest the play-offs, which will start on Tuesday and end on June 30. By that time, the Premiership line-up for next season will be decided.
Just over a week ago, when the season ended, Royal AM declared themselves the GladAfrica Championship winners and audaciously presented players with phoney winners’ medals at the boisterous post-match celebrations, which were well-aired on social media platforms.
South African football's mother body, the South African Football Association (SAFA), also weighed on the debate as soon as Sutherland's ruling became known.
SAFA said it accepts the ruling that the application to review the arbitration outcome be dismissed.
“As far as the Association (SAFA) is concerned, we are happy with the outcome,’’ said SAFA CEO, Advocate Tebogo Motlanthe in a statement over the weekend.
The straight-talking Motlanthe said the outcome showed that the arbiters were well-versed with the rules of the competition. He urged the PSL to accept and implement judicial decisions.
SAFA's statement also advised that the costs incurred by Sekhukhune shall be borne by Polokwane City FC and Royal AM FC.
This week the action moves from the courtroom to the playing field to determine who will join Sekhukhune in the Premiership next season. Sekhukhune will take the place of Black Leopards, who were demoted after finishing rock-bottom of the Premiership last season.
The Nedbank Cup runners-up Chippa United finished second last and can survive the dreaded chop by winning the play-offs. Only one of the three teams will be promoted after two rounds of round-robin matches.
Richards Bay, who finished in third place on the NFD log, will host Royal AM at the Umhlathuze Sports Stadium, KwaZulu-Natal, on Tuesday in the PSL promotion/relegation play-offs pipe-opener.
On Friday, the action moves to the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, where Chippa United will host KZN visitors Royal AM.