BULAWAYO – Promotion into the country’s Premier Soccer League (PSL) will from next year be a lot tougher for first division teams following plans to cut down on the number of teams to be relegated from the top flight.
This was revealed at a meeting between the Zifa presidium and football stakeholders from Bulawayo at the Zifa Village in Mount Hampden last Saturday.
Zifa vice-president Ndumiso Gumede said plans to set up a national first division have been shelved due to a lack of sponsorship and the association would instead introduce a Champion of Champions tournament involving the four regional winners.
“The four teams that will win in the various regions will play against each other in a round robin format and the top two will automatically gain promotion into the PSL while the other two will then be involved in a play-off against the teams that will have finished in 13th and 14th place on the PSL log,” Gumede said.
“The two teams that will accumulate the most points from the play-offs will earn the right to play in the PSL while those that will have lost will proceed to the first division.”
This means that only two teams will automatically be relegated at the end of the 2014 Castle Premiership season while those that will finish third and fourth from bottom will have a chance to preserve their status in play offs against the two teams from the first division that will have fared badly in the Champion of Champions tournament.
The decision to reduce the number of team that get demoted from the PSL came about after complaints from the 16-team top flight league that the ratio of teams that get the axe at the end of the season is too big.
But the way that Zifa is planning to deal with the issue may result in the national association butting heads with the top-flight league.
Because while admitting that he knew that from next year there will be a reduction in the number of teams that get demoted, PSL chief executive officer Kenny Ndebele expressed surprise that the football mother body has plans to get teams that finish in third and fourth place from the bottom to play in play-offs.
“What we know is that only two teams will be demoted next year and it is news that two more teams will be involved in play-offs,” Ndebele said.
“If it is true then that would mean that nothing has changed because four teams could still be relegated from the PSL at the end of the day which is what has been happening all along.”
The four teams that finish at the bottom of the log have been getting the chop at the end of the season with their places being taken up by the four teams that will have topped the log in the Southern, Eastern, Northern and Central regions.