Sport

Pressing Issues: The Safa vs SABC spat goes much deeper than we think

2018-11-25 07:31

Forget the ugly spat that has occurred between Safa and the SABC over the nonbroadcast of Bafana Bafana matches.

This matter runs much deeper than the SABC not being willing to pay the football governing body the R110 million a year that it is asking for.

It also has nothing to do with the statement that the public broadcaster issued last week saying that stadiums are less than a quarter full at Bafana matches (as much as this was true, a sad case in point being Tuesday’s Nelson Mandela Challenge against Paraguay).

The truth is the SABC has far more serious problems than the live broadcast of any national football team matches.

In fact, I doubt that even if it was given these rights free, it would have the money to put together decent infrastructure required to beam an international match live.

As previously pointed out in this column, the SABC is on its knees and almost dead when it comes to sports broadcasting.

Bare facts are that the SABC board:

  • Told Parliament on Tuesday that it may run out of money to pay salaries by early next year;
  • Asked government for a R3 billion bailout which, for now, has been turned down;
  • Failed to act against officials responsible for the irregular expenditure of R4.9 billion;
  • Will incur a loss of R803 million next year, which is in addition to the past financial year’s loss of R622 million;
  • Is in consultations with concerned trade unions, as well as the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration with a view to retrench about 2 000 workers; and
  • It would not get loans from banks because of the disclaimer from the Auditor-General that its books are so bad that he could not formulate an opinion.

So, you tell me where it is going to get R110 million to give to Safa for broadcast rights for national teams’ games.

And where does this leave Safa?

It leaves the football organisation with a R110 million hole in its revenue stream, as well as the amount we are told the SABC still owes it from the previous contract that expired in April.

The truth is that the country’s economy is doing so badly that it is affecting everybody.

Safa should actually kiss goodbye any hopes – if it is still nursing any – of getting a cent from the SABC anytime soon.

News out of Safa House is that it will hold an extraordinary congress on December 1 “to deal with proposed amendments to the statutes”, followed by an ordinary congress (annual general meeting) the next day.

Given the current economic climate in the country, Safa actually has its back against the wall. The situation is made worse by the underperformance of Bafana Bafana, whom, I have pointed out ad nauseam, are the jewel in the organisation’s crown.

Whenever the senior men’s national team loses on qualification for a continental or global event, such as the World Cup, it leaves a gaping hole in Safa’s finances.

As pointed out by yours truly before the World Cup in Russia in June, had Bafana qualified, Safa would have received at least R175 million – made up of a $2 million advance from Fifa, $2.5 million that CAF gave to all African countries that qualified, $1.5 million that Fifa gave to each of the 32 nations that qualified “for preparations” and the $8 million participation fee.

That’s a huge loss by any account.

It is such challenges that face Safa and call for it to prioritise reinventing the organisation during those two-day crucial gatherings. There was a time when companies had huge marketing, sponsorship and corporate social investment budgets.

Some companies would just pour money into projects like sports sponsorship and not even follow up on how it was spent.

But those days are long gone and forgotten; they might as well belong to the era of fairy tales.

Today, before parting with even a cent, companies thoroughly scrutinise what their return on investment would be.

With a number of different media streams springing up daily, the days of relying on the SABC must be over or else sports bodies such as Safa and Boxing SA will go the way of the dodo. Which would be sad!

Follow me on Twitter @Sbu_Mseleku

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May 26 2019