The Premier Soccer League (PSL) is set to face its second arbitration case over a sponsorship dispute with member club Cape Town City.

Renowned South African sports marketer Sgwili Gumede has made a stark prediction that the League will not succeed in its fight over City’s refusal to acquire a lucrative sponsorship deal with giant First National Bank (FNB).

The South African Football Association (SAFA) confirmed the dispute after the PSL rejected the club’s bid as a conflict of interest as FNB competes with Cup sponsors Nedbank.

A former AmaZulu defender from the early 90s, Gumede is an experienced branding, marketing and sponsorship specialist in the local game, having previously worked with Nike and brokered their partnership with Kaizer Chiefs in the early 2000s.

Coca-Cola’s former head of marketing ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa is hoping for a peaceful resolution, saying there is no apparent conflict in the current context.

“I hope that common sense will prevail and that the League and its own sponsor – in this case Nedbank – will just quietly find a way out of this situation that will lead to the entry of FNB [to local football]Gumede said SABC Sport.

“Because I’m afraid that if it does become a lawsuit, there’s going to be some other questions that need to be asked — difficult questions, and I think that both the League sponsor and the League itself would probably end up much worse off in a legal battle. .

“Essentially it was almost like, ‘Here we go again’ because the argument that was put forward first of all is that it took the PSL so long to decide and then inform [Cape Town City of the decision].

“I think so, John [Comitis] As quoted, it was four hours until their match started [against Mamelodi Sundowns] after PSL said two weeks ago.

“So for me it was just one of those things that made me wonder how the league makes these decisions because, I mean, there are two different rights – the League’s sponsorship rights for competitions, some of which are transferred by the clubs for collective commercialization, are different from the rights that clubs retain for their own commercialization.

“In no case do you have a situation where the rights of the club violate the rights of the League, and vice versa. So the issue of conflict of interest doesn’t really arise, and I don’t see how they even use the term in this context.”

One of the biggest arguments surrounding this issue of conflict of interest and exclusivity is that there are currently other teams in the league that sponsor rival sponsors of the League, such as MTN8, and have not had the same objections raised against them.

“In this particular case it is also difficult to make such arguments when year after year people see Vodacom sponsored teams playing in the MTN8 in their sponsored shirts,” he added.

“And you can’t make the argument that one precedes the other, that still doesn’t change the fact [there might be a conflict]then you have a situation where some can do the same thing that others can’t.

“And it can’t make sense, legally it can’t stand and I think that’s why Cape Town City went ahead and played with [their FNB sponsorship logos]and essentially said to Lisa, “Charge us if we’ve broken the law and then we’ll see [what happens].’”

This is not the first time that City and chairman John Kamitis, who is also a member of the PSL Executive Committee, have challenged the League over sponsorship.

Despite the League’s strict rules against bookmakers, City brought SportPesa into their sponsorship in 2018, and when a dispute arose, followed through with arbitration and emerged victorious, with the matter being settled amicably.

Velile Mnyanda

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