With only 12 matches remaining before the 2019/2020 Premier Soccer League (PSL) concludes, stakeholders, supporters, formal and informal traders have expressed concern about the overall performance and position of the Limpopo clubs – Baroka, Polokwane City and Black Leopards – in the league.
Should any one of these clubs be relegated they are likely to lose some of their main sponsors including the R1 million they are receiving from Limpopo Tourism Agency (LTA) per season. The three clubs boost the local economy as informal and formal traders as well as the tourism industry benefit from locally played matches throughout the league season.
Polokwane City, having started the season well, currently find themselves dismally rooted in the last position of the league. Black Leopards occupies the 15th position with 16 points while Baroka sits precariously in the 12th position with 17 points.
Many supporters have expressed fear that their favourite club may be demoted from the elite league while others argue that it is still early to press panic buttons.
Limpopo is home to about 5 million people who many are arguably football lovers and supporters. The three clubs brings a total of 45 matches in one season and those matches have economic spin-offs in the province.
LTA Spokesperson, Mike Tauatsoala said if one or more of the clubs were relegated to a lower league several sectors of the local economy, including service, hospitality as well as the informal economic sector would be negatively affected. “There will be a loss of revenue from the informal economic sector, loss of job opportunities because some small business will not be operating. “We are really not content with the position our clubs are occupying presently and we call on our people to support our three Limpopo based clubs by going to the stadiums when they play to encourage them. This is because sports tourism boosts economy,” he said.
He added that since 2010, after Polokwane was appointed the Fifa World Cup venue, the province has inspired confidence in various sporting codes, especially soccer. “We are fortunate to have three teams in the PSL. This is a huge boost to tourism in the province as this extend the sport tourism profile of the province. This has further been supported by the introduction of international sports events such as Limpopo Golf Championship, an international golfing event, and Tour de Limpopo, also an international cycle race.
“Our province continues to be one of the major recipients of tourism arrivals from South Africa’s core international markets given its broad tourism offering and appeal. Over the past year, our province has still been the leading domestic destination at 5,1 million trips,” Tauatsoala remarked.
Hawker Lesiba Rakgaodi from Zebediela sells bunny chow, porridge and meat and ground nuts at Peter Mokaba Stadium during soccer matches. He said if one of the clubs is relegated to the lower leagues the biggest loser will be the local economy. “We rely immensely on the matches. We are able to trade at the stadium every week during mid-week and weekend matches. We are making good money from our goods so it will be sad if one of the clubs is relegated. We fully support the clubs. We have faith in the players and their respective technical teams. We are aware that there are only a few matches left and we are certain they will get maximum points from those matches and avoid possible relegation,” Rakgoadi said.
Local businessperson and owner of hospitality and tourism establishments in the province, Mmabogoshi Msiza also said that the clubs bring huge economic spin-offs to the hospitality sector and that it would suffer a major blow in the event of relegation becoming a reality.
“They still have more matches to play in the league and they will turn things around. We don’t want them to be relegated because it will have a negative impact on our revenue. In terms of occupancy we experience high occupancy during their locally played matches. “The supporters and clubs use of our facilities. They must continue working hard and ensure that they finish the league in the decent position,” Msiza said.
Grace Sibara, Chairperson of Limpopo Women in Tourism and owner of a tourism and hospitality establishment wished the clubs well in their last remaining matches of the league. “If they win, we are also winning. Most of the supporters make use of our establishments because the clubs are contracted to the hotels. If they are relegated we will definitely suffer as we won’t be able to generate revenue during the match days.”
Story and photo: Herbert Rachuene