Thu, 04 Jun 2020

PSL title race at crisis point

23 Apr 2019, 23:42 GMT+10

Cape Town - Like a motor vehicle hurtling downhill with its breaks having failed, the PSL administration is facing a pile-up of massive dimensions two weeks before the end of the league programme.

This is due to belatedly neglecting to rule on whether to penalise defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns for fielding Wayne Arendse in the 1-1 draw against Bidvest Wits in the controversial game played more than six months ago.

Up to five clubs, Sundowns themselves, Orlando Pirates, Wits, SuperSport United and Cape Town City, who are all currently title contenders, could seemingly be affected should Sundowns be deprived of a point by the PSL that would cost them their title - with appeals on the issue carrying on beyond the last game of the season on May 11 should the Arendse affair affect the ultimate destination of the Absa Premiership.

The chaotic situation follows on the decision already taken by the PSL Disciplinary Committee to find Sundowns guilty of illegally fielding Arendse - and, while no sentencing has yet been delivered, it could dramatically transform the result of the match to a 3-0 win for Wits.

What makes the affair seem like a page out of Ripley's "Believe it or Not" is that the Sundowns-Wits game took place six months ago and the issue at hand should rightly have been settled, one way or another, long ago - thereby avoiding any possible embarrassment of the eventual League winner remaining an unknown factor after the championship is concluded.

Certainly the PSL administration will be praying that the unsettled situation does not ultimately decide who is Absa Premiership champions for the 2018/19 season, but League prosecutor Nande Becker has reaffirmed emphatically that Sundowns were guilty of fielding Arendse against Wits when he was not included on the official team list for the game.

"According to the PSL constitution," added Becker, "a player cannot be introduced into a game if he is not included on the team list of starting players and reserves submitted to the referee - and Arendse was not on that list and thereby had no right to take the field."

But complicating the matter with startling and potentially devastating effect - and which Sundowns believe should be a trump card and influence the final sentencing - is the assertion that the match commissioner had given the Brazilians permission to call up Arendse and that he has since confirmed to making this ruling.

Meanwhile, the complicated impasse could remain even after the three main title contenders Pirates, Sundowns and Wits, fulfil their fixtures on Saturday May 11, with the warning given to Julius Caesar to "beware of the ides of March" extended in this instance for the PSL to "beware of the ides of May".

For the record, going into the run-in Premier League programme, Orlando Pirates top the log table with 50 points from 27 matches and a goal difference of 16; followed by Sundowns with 47 points from 26 games and a goal difference of 11; and Wits with 44 points from 26 games and a goal difference of 11 in third position.

The clubs' remaining fixtures are:

PIRATES: v Maritzburg United (away) April 24; Cape Town City (away) May 4; and Polokwane City (home) May 11.

SUNDOWNS: v Chippa United (home) April 23; Black Leopards (away) May 1: Golden Arrows (home) May 7; and Free State Stars (away) May 11.

WITS: Black Leopards (home) April 24; v SuperSport United (away) April 27; Bar FC (home) May 4 and Golden Arrows (away) May 11.

And hanging ominously like a spectre over the entire issue is the "Arendse Affair".

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