Ladies and gentlemen, it is a great privilege for me to have served into our last year of another term and to present this Chairman's address at our Annual General meeting this morning.
It has also been a great honour for me to have been Chairman of your League for the last three years.
I did not take this position for granted, and I accepted the burden of your expectation.
Ladies and gentlemen please allow me to remind you again with an abstract from the book The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. It reads:
When egos come together, whether in personal relationships or in organizations or institutions, bad things happen sooner or later, drama of one kind or another, in the form of conflict, problems, power struggles, emotions or physical violence or so on.
As our league continues to grow, we should all bear these words in mind.
We must not let success go to our heads. We must not start to bicker and quarrel over the fruits of our success.
Colleagues, please let us all remember… Together – and only together – we have increased the value of our broadcast rights. Together – and only together – we have increased the value of our sponsorships.
Together – and only together – we will continue to raise the standard of our league. I believe this remains our greatest challenge – to stay together, to grow together and to win together.
In the great words of Martin Luther King he reminded America and the world that “we cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make a pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.”
Barack Obama says himself in his victory speech, “This victory alone is not the change we seek. It is only the chance for us to make the change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were.”
“It cannot happen without you, without a new spirit of service, a new spirit of sacrifice.
So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other.
Let us remember that, if this financial crisis taught us anything, it's that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers.
In this country, we rise or fall as one nation, as one people. Let's resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long."
Some of you may have wondered whether it might also be time for change in South African soccer, as we approach our Biennial General meeting in 2012.
Some of you may have started to consider that the same people have been running South African soccer for many years and that, in the leadership of our game, it may also be time for change.
I understand these sentiments. I absolutely believe that no man is ever bigger than the game, or bigger than the league.
Every person working within the League must commit themselves to serving the League, for the greater good of the league. It is the league – and not any individual – that matters.
For everybody, in any position of responsibility, there will always be a time to come and a time to go. Having said all this, we should be wary of change for the sake of change.
Americans perceived their country was in trouble and at the time turned to Obama to deliver change. Is the National Soccer League in trouble? I don’t believe so. In fact, I would refer you to another popular slogan with its origins in the USA.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
i: Broadcast Rights
Ladies and gentlemen, I am happy to report the PSL is not broke. On the contrary, the league has enjoyed exceptional success. All of you are aware of the historic broadcast rights deal completed with SuperSport.
In preparation for the coming into effect of the Act, the Executive Committee appointed Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs Attorneys to handle the corporatization process, which process will result in the NSL ceasing to be a voluntary association and becoming a company incorporated in terms of the Act. The first phase of this process commenced with the legal and financial due diligence which was conducted by Edward Nathan Sonnebergs Attorneys and Deloitte & Touche’, respectively, and the relevant reports were adopted by the Board of Governors, 3rd December 2010.
The next phase involved the development of the Memorandum of Incorporation (a document that will replace the current constitution of the NSL), the drafting of the Sale of Business Agreement between the current NSL entity and the new incorporated NSL and the preparation of Tax Directive to be submitted to SARS once the members have agreed on the final version of the Memorandum of Incorporation.
These documents will be thoroughly considered by the members at a workshop to be held in January 2012.The corporatization of the NSL will further enhance its governance processes and the running of the business will be even more transparent and bound to build confidence in all our stakeholders.
iii: Club Licensing
As part of further professionalizing the administration of football and ensuring that both the NSL and our stakeholders’ interests were protected, the Executive Committee implemented the Club Licensing Program during 2008/2009, the first phase of which commenced with the implementation of the Compliance Manual. The next and final phase of the Club Licensing Program will regulate various aspects, including, clubs’ youth development, infrastructure, administration, financial criteria and legal criteria.
The draft Club Licensing Regulations were distributed to the members on 3rd December 2010 and clubs had until end of January 2011 to provide input. These regulations will be thoroughly considered at the clubs’ workshop in January 2012 and the final phase will be fully implemented by 2012/13 season.
It is interesting to note that Club Licensing is now high on FIFA’s and CAF's agenda. The NSL should commend itself for being one of the few leagues in the world that initiated the process without it being obligatory.
iv: SAFA Constitution
The Executive Committee has, through the Joint Liaison Committee, engaged in cordial discussions with SAFA regarding amendments to the SAFA Constitution. Although negotiations started with both parties’ positions being far apart from each other, a common ground was eventually found culminating in the new SAFA Constitution, subject to some clarification, which is still to be adopted.
The new SAFA Constitution ensures that the NSL retains its position as the special member and the only body that runs professional football in South Africa.
v: Bargaining Chamber
Over the past few years, the Executive Committee has invested more effort in improving the relationship between the NSL and the South African Football Players Union (“SAFPU”), through the Bargaining Chamber. The NSL has demonstrated its respect for the rights of players by financing the activities of SAFPU through a million rand grant paid on an annual basis.
Through the activities of the Bargaining Chamber the SAFPU and the NSL signed a Collective Bargaining Agreement and the NSL is currently in the process of registering itself as an employers’ association with the Department of Labour.
This process is aimed at improving the bargaining processes between the SAFPU and the NSL to ensure that matters agreed on during the bargaining process are binding on both parties.
vi: Customer Relationship Management System
From a players registration perspective, we are fully compliant with FIFA’s Player Passport Requirement with player history, player personal information and player match stats all feeding into the Player Passport.
Our referees' online match report capturing system is highly rated by our own referees' as well as CAF and FIFA referee instructors. All our referee’s and match commissioners are fully trained on the system and this allows for quick transfer of match information immediately after the match into our CRM system.
This improves delivery of yellow card and suspension information to clubs. Very soon, clubs will have the opportunity to access all this information via a portal.
Our online accreditation system is proving to be a valuable tool from an accreditation point of view, but also a communication perspective as well. We have over three thousand people accredited throughout the country and this includes: Media, Broadcasters, Club Officials, Sponsors and Suppliers, Sponsors' Agencies, Doping Control and Security.
By having all the data of these individuals on our CRM database we can now communicate PSL information accurately and effectively via email and sms. This system has also been recognized by the German Bundesliga who are currently using a trial version of it.
Project Knockout which is the online competitions management system is currently in its prototype phase and is near completion. This will assist us greatly in improving the way we run competitions and will also ensure transparency and accountability.
All PSL Managers as well as a focus group comprising of some club officials have done thorough analysis on the day - to - day running of a cup competition and provided insight into the development of Project Knockout. We can truly call this our own home - grown product which some IT experts believe will be a major breakthrough in developing sustainable online competition management systems for other sporting codes as well. This is the future and we must be proud of what we are doing.
In the pipeline as I speak, we have a Disciplinary Committee Management System in development to assist the Legal Department with the effective management of DC cases from start to finish and this will also ensure proper tracking and keep an online history of all our DC cases and sanctions.
We are also developing a Contract Management System for the Legal and Finance Department that will see the management of contracts involving all our sponsors, suppliers and service providers.
I must at this point add that our Software Solutions Partner, Green 4, has been awarded official FIFA accreditation as an IT Supplier thanks mainly to their involvement with the PSL and we must celebrate this achievement. It must be noted that whatever online Football solutions and software Green 4 provide to other Leagues, FA’s and other sporting codes, the PSL will receive royalty fees.
We will be receiving our first cheque from Green 4 this month, following work they have done with the English FA. They have developed a Governing Body system for the English FA and have used components and software from our systems including player registration and competition management system.
Green 4 have also tendered to provide football software solutions for 6 countries in the Middle East and have been shortlisted as a service provider for a further 6 countries in South America.
Other projects to be developed for the PSL include an Academy System that will benefit clubs immensely, a security system to manage PSL Security, a loyalty program system for clubs who will be able to keep in touch with fans and an overall ticketing system for the PSL.
vii: Legal compliance
Central to the role of the Legal Division and in line with the wider League’s vision, the Division must provide innovative legal solutions to the League that contribute to the League’s next growth trajectory.
The recent changes in the legal environment that included the enactment of the Safety at Sports and Recreational Events Act, No 2 of 2010 and publication of the draft Safety at Sports And Recreational Event Regulations, 2011, the implementation of the National Credit Act, the Consumer Protection Act, Children's Act and the immediacy to roll out club licensing and proposed changes to labour legislation, amongst others, has necessitated a revision of the role and capacity of the Legal Division.
While the Legal Division will continue to manage the prosecution of disciplinary cases, its scope will include guidance on legislation and regulatory compliance to the League and the clubs, management of stakeholders on legislative issues, contract management, management of litigation and corporate governance as well as overseeing the intellectual property profile of the League.
As a league, we must be proud of this progress. We should celebrate this progress. We need not be defensive, and we need not hide our light beneath a bushel.
We should not hesitate to talk about what has been achieved.
Ladies and gentlemen, we should celebrate what has been achieved. Equally, we should not be complacent and overlook the challenges that lie ahead.
We are staring at the abyss of the potential global economic crisis. South Africa is not immune from the negative development in the global economy. The extent and the impact of this impending crisis is yet unknown. But, what we do know is that we are living in uncertain economic times that require agility and adaptability.
The Government forecast real GDP growth of 3.1% for the next three years. The PSL, therefore, has to be prudent in its business outlook, accounting policies and financial management.
This will mean that we must continue to; prepare and present our financial statements in accordance with International Reporting Accounting Standards; adhere to the highest forms of Corporate Governance Principles that can withstand the scrutiny even by the court of public opinion; and move towards modernization and corporatization of our financial systems and procedures.
The Premier Soccer League has been "a clearing house" for its members and it has performed this duty very diligently - increasing grants to clubs by double digits year on year. Therefore, the PSL's financial strategy for the next three years must be prudent and be supported by the following pillars:
1. Lessen the dependence on the sponsorship revenue and look at self- sustaining new revenue streams.
2. Retention of more income within the PSL and investing it for future opportunities and risk.
3. Conservative expenditure management with the view towards value adding operational efficiencies.
On behalf of the League, I would like to offer our congratulations to Orlando Pirates Football Club for winning the 2010/2011 Absa title on that dramatic last day of the season.
To Orlando Pirates for winning the Nedbank Cup.
To Orlando Pirates for winning the MTN8.
To Kaizer Chiefs for winning the Telkom Knockout.
To Black Leopards for reaching the final of the Nedbank Cup and qualifying for the CAF Confederation Cup.
To Jomo Cosmos and Black Leopards, for winning promotion to the Premier Soccer League.
I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Executive Committee of the PSL for their unstinting dedication.
To all the sub-committees, especially the National First Division Sub-Committee.
To each of the Clubs for their magnificent effort, on and off the field.
To each of the sponsors and suppliers for their continuous support.
To the match officials, for their commitment to a most difficult task.
There is a growing sporting and particularly football jurisprudence developing in football tribunals and courts. This jurisprudence already has real importance for the way in which contracts are interpreted and applied. Thanks to the DC and Pro-forma Prosecutor for dealing with all the cases before them decisively.
To the outgoing Chief Executive Officer Kjetil Siem and the staff of the PSL, for their continuing efforts.
To the media in all its many forms, for their interest and enthusiasm.
In conclusion I urge all the members to embrace the spirit of competition - cooperation in competition.
Remember that the centre must hold. And this centre is built and forever strengthened when our energies work in concert.
Dr Irvin Khoza, chairman of the National Soccer League