Call for more First Division matches

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The NFD, which used to be played as a full-on league with matches scheduled on home and away basis as is the case with the Absa Premiership, was reduced to a Coastal and Inland Stream of eight teams each, played over three rounds of matches.

“I have sent a proposal to the PSL based on next season’s fixtures being played over four rounds, as it is ridiculous that we play only 21 matches in a season that started in September and ended after mid-April,” said Koutroulis.

_quote“How can one run a professional club when the National First Division season starts at the end of September and finishes just after mid-April?

“The right way is to return the National First Division to the format that it was in last season with all teams playing each other on a home and away basis, but if this does not happen, then the clubs need to place each other in two home matches and two away matches to make up 28 matches."

“We have a difficult task in getting major sponsors interested in support of the club as the term of match activity is too short,” he added.

“Each First Division club receives a monthly grant of R150 000 from the PSL, who also covered match transport, meals and accommodation costs, but it costs around R500 000 a month to keep the club going, and the deficit has to be paid out of the owner's pockets.”

The clubs received the R150 000 per month fee on the proviso that they would play in Inland and Coastal streams. Each club used to receive R50 000 when the clubs played in a fully-fledged league the season before.

Sergio dos Santos, coach of Ikapa Sporting, who compete in the Coastal Stream of the NFD, agreed that playing three rounds of matches in a season is not ideal for the clubs.

“We received a fixture list at the start of the season, which we understood to have been drawn up with the third round home away venues chosen at random by a computer,” said Dos Santos.

“Then at the start of this year, we received a rescheduled programme of fixtures, and on this document, Ikapa Sporting picked up three difficult away matches as part of the third round games, but what can one do?”

Black Aces finished fifth in the Inland Stream with 28 points from 21 matches, while Sporting ended sixth in the Coastal Stream on 21 points from 21 games.