Members of the Board of Governors, the year under review is totally unprecedented. There is no time in the world, that there ever was a total shut down. Where everything grounded to a halt. The interconnectedness of the world has been growing rapidly for the last fifty years.

The speed at which information, people and goods are able to move around the world has changed the sourcing and consumption landscapes the world over. So, what happens when movement stops? Well, the answer before 2020 was, “It cannot!”. “The movement cannot stop”. 2020 has effectively rubbished the common wisdom that the movement cannot stop because the world was forced to stop the movement in 2020 and it did.

Going forward, any credible strategy from small businesses, through multinationals to governments including learning institutions and civil society organisations have to incorporate considerations on the world grinding to a sudden halt. This is the “new normal”.

As a business that organises the largest and most gatherings in South Africa, the PSL value chain is vulnerable to the “new normal” where the movement and gathering of people can, as we have experienced with Covid-19, carry a deadly virus not detectable by any of the human’s five senses – we cannot see, touch, smell, taste or hear it. When we do touch it, we do not even know we did until we are sick. This is an example of the scenarios that we need to build into our strategy and plans going forward.

The NSL operates a business whose critical asset is its fixture. It is from the fixture that every activity is energised. It is the fixture that creates the conversations, which are a major business all in themselves, that initiate movement in many value chains.

It is the fixture that creates an irresistible urge in Sipho Nkosi to use his Samsung smartphone to video call or text, using his Vodacom subscription to the network, his friend Kabelo Molepo, who is with MTN, using his Huawei smartphone, to talk about arrangement to book accommodation, using their Nedbank card, to hire a minibus combi and make all other arrangements relating to this activity. The economic activities generated by the NSL fixture cover every sector, formal and informal, of the South African economy.

Traditionally, our value proposition is funded out of a part of our sponsors’ businesses that is most vulnerable to budget cuts – marketing. Marketing budgets are the first to be cut in recessions. We have experienced this through the difficulty we experience in sponsorship renewals and our broadcast partners experience in broadcast sponsorships and advertising sales.

It has become urgent for the PSL to consolidate and let the market receive tangible and ready-to-use formats, intelligence about the NSL audience.

The year under review is proof, if ever we needed one, that we do not cower and fizzle under pressure. The literal once a week and sometimes more meetings of the Board of Governors under lockdown made it possible for us to complete the season. Had we not completed the season, our funding models would have been irreparably harmed. The manner in which we created the bio-bubble albeit very expensive, proved that we are reliable partners prepared to go to “the ends of the world” to protect our partners and their value propositions.

I commend you, the Club Chairpersons for the selflessness with which you approached the unprecedented challenges we faced at this most difficult time.

It is critical that the NSL has capacity and has a seat at the table when critical decisions like these are made going forward. Not having these in place provide a real threat leaving our fate to being decided by those that are ignorant or seeking to harm our interests.

In the year under review, we have had two PSL sponsors, ABSA and Telkom, not renewing. This does not at all put the value of the PSL sponsorship properties in question. It does, however, bring to the fore, the role of sponsorship as a mechanism used beyond the creation of awareness and corporate citizenship.

This role, beyond awareness creation and corporate citizenship, is the use of sponsorship in marrying value chains in a synergy where the value proposition of the sponsor is in the same continuum with that of the PSL. It was this reality that highlighted the synergy between the PSL (superior content creator) with DStv (superior content platform). This provided the PSL, for the first time, with an opportunity to have its own 24/7 channel – Channel 202.

The PSL own channel, the Home of the PSL, provides an opportunity beyond 24/7 for the PSL content. It provides an opportunity to expose to the various stakeholders to 360° of the PSL, as in my Sipho Nkosi and Kabelo Molepo example, where a series of social and economic activities follow the announcement of a fixture.

Over and above the dedicated Home of the PSL Channel 202 on DStv, we are challenged to prioritise the strengthening of our platforms. There is no question that ours is a superior attention-grabbing content, with a huge following.

Consumption of content including news is migrating from platforms owned by Media Houses to platforms of the originators of the content. For originators that have not caught on, Aggregators are using analytics to scavenge on superior content in whose creation they do not pay a cent. Media and Marketing is happening directly between the Originators and Consumer through devices. Direct and personal communication and marketing that was once inhibited by costs is now a smart phone away.

The Home of the PSL and the need to strengthen our Social Media Platforms compels us to go back to the drawing board to rethink our product architecture, including funding models and the execution of its many facets. To monetize our content and increase our income streams.

Gratitude is one of our core values. Please join me in our expression of thanks to ABSA and Telkom. With the growing opportunities provided by technology and their understanding that the PSL audience that transcends gender, age, race, religion, political affiliation, geography and all other factors that usually divide people, I have no doubt in my mind that we will partner again in the near future.

We welcome DStv as a headline sponsor of the PSL. Finally, superior content on a superior platform.

In what turned out to be a difficult season full of unprecedented firsts, it is important not to only highlight the anomalies, but to recognise the pillars of strength that remain core to our ability to deliver:

Our broadcast sponsor SuperSport, our league and competition sponsors, and suppliers – ABSA, Nedbank, Telkom, MTN, GladAfrica, Carling Black label and Tsogo Sun who enable us to keep the game accessible besides the rising costs in a persistently recessionary environment.

It is important to note that none of our sponsors put us under pressure nor demanded amendments nor asked for refunds although their rights were infringed as a result of lockdown; the Executive Committee; the NSL CEO and staff; the Club Chairpersons and club personnel for going beyond the call of duty when required by circumstances beyond our control.

A special note of gratitude is important for the stakeholders that enabled the completion of the season in the bio-bubble: National Government – President Cyril Ramaphosa; Ministers Nathi Mthethwa, Zweli Mkhize, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Bheki Cele and their respective Departments; National Police; Gauteng Provincial Police; Gauteng Provincial Government; Disaster Management Control Centre; JMPD and Health Services; Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni and Tshwane Municipalities; and The South African Football association, SAFA.

Ladies and Gentlemen this is an elective year. Our chosen, skin in the game, method of governance where the insiders chose from within themselves their representatives for four years has proven very effective. Please join me in thanking the Executive Committee and the Sub-Committees for the excellent work done in the last four years.

I return to the great energiser, our Fixture. This is what initiates the conversation and the matching social and economic activities. Congratulations to Mamelodi Sundowns and Swallows, the respective winners of the ABSA Premiership and GladAfrica Championship.

My heartfelt gratitude goes to the supporters and fans. This is the league of the supporters and fans, by the supporter and fans, and for the supporters and fans.

Ladies and Gentlemen, to achieve like we have momentously achieved since we professionalised the league under the PSL name; to survive like we did through the harsh and cruel effects of Covid-19 to the extent that we were able to complete the season in a bio-bubble under lockdown; to set a path for the future where our governance structures are trusted by members, the nation and the world; require an infinite mindset.

There are limits to what those involved in, “I, I, I” expedient mindset achieve. Those with an infinite mindset see the bigger picture where the generation after them will inherit institutions that have a culture and work ethic that rejects expedience and cutting of corners characteristic of those with an “I, I, I” mindset.

Let us choose the infinite mindset. It has proven its worth.


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