JOHANNESBURG, July 3 – The Premier Soccer League (PSL) have exactly one month to sort out the Ajax Cape Town saga if they are to start the 2018/19 season on August 3 as planned.
The new season traditionally kicks off with the MTN8 competition, with the league starting a couple of weeks after that.
But Monday’s Johannesburg High Court ruling by judge Denise Fisher to overrule the earlier decision by Advocate Mokhari to dock Ajax the seven points from the games in which the allegedly ineligible Tendai Ndoro played, saw the Cape side reinstated to 15th place on the league standings.
This, however, leaves the PSL with a major problem in that the promotion playoffs have already taken place and were won by Black Leopards, who are expecting to take their spot in the top flight next season.
But while Fischer set aside the Mokhari’s verdict, she did not offer a solution for the way forward and instead referred the Ndoro matter back to the Fifa Players’ Status Committee to make a final ruling on the issue.
However, earlier in the case, the first hearing of which took place on January 31, the PSL and later the South African Football Association (Safa) had tried on two occasions to get Fifa to rule on the matter, only for the world footballing body to refer the matter back to the South African authorities.
The PSL issued the following statement on Monday acknowledging the court case, although it was not very definitive in what the next step will be.
“The relief that was sought from the court was the setting aside of Advocate Mokhari SC’s misconduct award together with orders that Ajax Cape Town should be on the 15th position on the final League table, and that the Promotion Play-offs be set aside.
“Judge Fisher set aside Advocate Mokhari’s award but declined to hand down the other relief sought. It is necessary for the League to properly consider the meaning and effect of the judgement before making any further comment on the matter.
“The judgement and advice of the League’s advisors will be considered by the PSL Executive Committee and the appropriate steps will be taken in due course.”
Ajax are themselves unsure of what exactly the latest ruling will mean for their future.
Said CEO Ari Efstathiou: “Ajax Cape Town are naturally very pleased with Judge Fisher’s ruling to set aside Advocate Mokhari’s award. The club will make further comment once full clarity on Judge Fisher’s judgement is received from its legal team.”
It would seem likely the league will once more try and ask FIFA to step in and rule on the matter.
If that request is declined, the PSL could replay the play-offs, which would likely draw an appeal from Leopards. It would also not make much sense to allow the team which finished second in the National First Division last season, Jomo Cosmos, to get another shot at the play-offs which they already lost out on.
The increasingly feasible option, which would just about keep everyone happy and allow the new season to kick off as scheduled, would be to have a 17-team league for the 2018/19 campaign.
– African News Agency (ANA)