The back-and forth regarding the PSL Promotional Playoffs and the promotion legal wrangles look far from over as the PSL has now postponed the commencement of the matches, which were scheduled to kick off on Thursday afternoon with a match between Chippa United and Richards Bay.
In a letter seen by the SABC News, the National Soccer League’s legal representatives state that “… due to the dispute on the correct interpretation of the Nyathi AJ order raised in your letter, we are instructed that the commencement of the 2021 GladAfrica promotion/relegation playoff matches between Chippa United Football Club and Richards Bay Football Club, scheduled for 15h00 this afternoon, will be postponed.”
The games were initially put on suspension Monday evening when Royal AM, who are fighting to stay at the summit of the GladAfrica Championships, succeeded, through Judge Nyathi, in seeking an urgent interdict against the commencement of the playoffs, which were initially scheduled to kick off on Tuesday.
However, following the ruling the league made known their intentions to appeal the interdict – a move they believed would then set aside the interdict against the playoffs, paving the way for games to go ahead on Thursday.
This prompted Royal AM, who are fighting to stay at the top of the GladAfrica Championship, to give an ultimatum to the PSL to abide by the interdict issued on Monday and suspend the playoffs. The KwaZulu-Natal club gave the PSL until 10am to respond or face legal action and as things stand, it the league has now given in to the pressure.
The league was quick to point on that the postponement was not an admission that Royal AM was correct in their interpretation of the Nyathi ruling. “This is in no manner whatsoever an admission that your client’s position is correct – it is not.”
The league’s legal representatives have now responded to the Royal AM, stating that there seems to be a “dispute” regarding the order by Judge Nyathi on Monday.
“Your letter illustrates that there is clearly now a dispute regarding whether the Nyathi AJ order is final (in which case section 18(1) of the Superior Courts Act applies) or whether the Nyathi J order is ‘an interlocutory order not having the effect of a final judgment’ (in which case section 18(2) of the Superior Courts Act applies). Our client adopts the former interpretation and your client adopts the latter interpretation.”
The league has stated that it intends to apply to the High Court on an urgent basis for a declaratory order on the Judge Nyathi order and its suspension.
“In order to resolve the dispute regarding the proper interpretation of the Nyathi J order, our client intends to apply today to the High Court on an urgent basis for an order declaring that section 18(1) applies so that the operation and execution of the Nyathi AJ order was suspended by its application for leave to appeal. In the alternative, our client will ask that the operation and execution of the Nyathi J order be suspended in terms of section 18(2) if it were found to be ‘an interlocutory order not having the effect of a final judgment’. The founding papers will be served on your client, via email to your offices as attorneys of record in the matter, as soon as possible during the course of the day.”
On Saturday, judgment was handed in the much-anticipated GladAfrica Championship promotion case involving Sekhukhune United, Polokwane City and Royal AM, at the Johannesburg High Court. On that day, Judge Roland Sutherland upheld an earlier ruling by the SAFA Arbitration process which had awarded three points to the Limpopo side, putting United at the peak of the GladAfrica Championship and making them the winners of the competition with a straight promotion to the DSTV Premiership.
“The counterclaim to review the arbitration award given by Epstein SC on 19 May 2021 is dismissed,” read in part the High Court order.
A week before the final round of matches of the first division, the PSL promotion contest was thrown into a battle in the boardroom when the SAFA Arbitration process awarded Sekhukhune United three points and three goals for their contentious match against Polokwane City in January. Following that match, which they lost 1-0, Ba Bina Noko, as Sekhukhune United are affectionately known, lodged a complaint with the PSL DC, complaining that City had failed to include five Under-23 players on their team sheet, as per the PSL rules.
While the PSL DC found Polokwane City guilty and deducted the three points they had irregularly secured against Sekhukhune, they decided not to award those point to the opposing team, as it had done so in similar previous cases.
This prompted Ba Bina Noko to lodge an appeal against the PSL DC’s decision, the results of which was a decision by arbitration to award the three points and three goals to United, a few days before the final round of matches which would decide which team between Royal AM and United would gain straight promotion to the DSTV Premiership.
However, the PSL Executive Committee, subsequently, challenged the decision by arbitration, refusing to award the points and the goals to Sekhukhune United. The decision was to the benefit of Royal AM who went into their final match against Cape Town All-Stars at the top of the first division log. They went on to win their final match after being awarded a much-talked-about soft penalty in the final stage of their decisive match even though the PSL didn’t hand the trophy and medal citing that they had been served with court papers.
Royal AM has since appealed that judgment which is now delaying the start of the PSL Promotional Playoffs and will subsequently delay the 2021/2022 PSL season.