It’s Ari up and wait for Ajax, but the PSL circus goes on
CEO Ari Efstathiou still fighting club’s automatic relegation while the league will start as scheduled
The Premier Soccer League season will begin as scheduled on August 4 after a dramatic morning in the South Gauteng High Court that involved Ajax Cape Town withdrawing their interdict to halt the start of the campaign.
The PSL were also granted leave to appeal the ruling of Judge Denise Fisher that froze Ajax’s automatic relegation from the top flight at the end of last season, with that process set to start in the coming days.
While that may be considered a blow to Ajax, it was neither unexpected nor fatal to their hopes, so their decision to withdraw their application to interdict the start of the new season, and to have Fisher’s judgment stand while the PSL appeal is heard, is a puzzling one.That is unless there are movements behind the scenes to get the parties around the negotiating table, which is something that Ajax have been requesting for months.
Club CEO Ari Efstathiou left the court on Thursday without taking questions from journalists to explain the actions from the clubs, while he has also not responded to subsequent requests for comment from Times Select.
He had been adamant last week that the club would “throw everything at it” in their attempt to get “justice” for what he perceived was unfair automatic relegation that was imposed on the side following an arbitration ruling from Advocate William Mokhari.
And so it seems puzzling they would withdraw their attempt to interdict the start of the campaign unless they either felt there was no chance of it being successful, or there are behind-the-scenes movements that have left the club appeased for now.The bottom line is that the football will go ahead next Saturday, starting with a titanic clash between Mamelodi Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs, and for the average fan this will be welcome news.
Earlier, the PSL were granted leave to appeal the ruling of Judge Fisher that for the moment elevated Ajax Cape Town back into 15th position in last season’s Absa Premiership table.
The PSL successfully petitioned Fisher on Thursday to allow them the opportunity to present the case to another judge because they believed she had erred and another authority would find differently.
Fisher had ruled that the arbitration ruling of Mokhari that relegated Ajax last season be set aside as he was not the correct authority to hear the matter and that it should rather have gone to Fifa’s Player Status Committee. Ajax had opposed Thursday’s proceedings.The PSL are banking on the fact that even if they ultimately lose their case and Ajax are allowed to compete in the Premier League next season, they will accommodate the club at a later date.
With pressure from sponsors and broadcasters to get the league underway, the worse-case scenario for the PSL is that they will have to add Ajax to their schedule later on with catch-up fixtures. A much worse scenario for them was the potential that there would be no football in the coming weeks, potentially putting many of their contracts with stakeholders at risk.
Mokhari had stripped Ajax of points gained in matches against Platinum Stars, SuperSport United and Polokwane City last season and, in a move described as unprecedented and overly harsh by Ajax, handed the matches 3-0 to their opponents.
This moved Ajax from the relegation playoff position to bottom of the table and automatic relegation.