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SAFA chief claims SABC deal close

The South African Football Association has said it is close to agreeing a deal with the SABC that would see national team matches return to the screens of the public-service broadcaster.

South Africa’s men’s and women’s teams have received sporadic television coverage since SAFA’s previous agreement with the SABC expired in April 2018. However, SAFA’s acting chief executive Russell Paul has said a deal could soon be announced that will also involve pay-television broadcaster SuperSport.

“For the long term‚ we are in discussions with SABC and those discussions are very positive‚” Paul told the SowetanLive website. “At the same time‚ we have also been in discussions with SuperSport around what options they have.”

He added: “We believe that within the (next few weeks) we will be able to make a positive announcement to the public of South Africa. Talks are at a very advanced stage between ourselves and the SABC‚ and between ourselves and SuperSport. The talks include all the properties that we have as SAFA.”

The SABC has been struggling with well-documented financial difficulties of late. The broadcaster resumed coverage of the country’s Premier Soccer League late last month after agreeing terms on a new sublicensing agreement with SuperSport.

The 2019-20 PSL season kicked off earlier in August without coverage on SABC after the broadcaster failed to meet SuperSport’s R56m (€3.3m/$3.7m) per season asking price for a sublicensing contract. SABC had turned to the country’s regulator, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa), in an effort to end the impasse and a new five-season deal spanning 2019-20 to 2023-24 was agreed.

Earlier this month, the SABC said it would not broadcast the 2019 Rugby World Cup on television after failing to reach a sublicensing deal with SuperSport. SowetanLive notes that it remains to be seen how a potential deal with SAFA will be structured as the governing body last year claimed the SABC owed it millions from their previous agreement.

The SABC also failed to broadcast some of South Africa’s qualifying matches for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations having not been able to agree terms with SAFA. The governing body is said to have rejected a R10m offer from the SABC amid a demand for R110m annually for the rights to all national team matches.