|Forgotten man: Tenda Ndoro at Orlando Pirates|
THE official PSL account on twitter announced it proudly at exactly 8am this morning: “The domestic transfer window is officially open.”
After that, just the creak of that opening window and tumbleweed blowing through the league’s offices in Parktown until the closing of a slightly cracked window at 5pm on Friday, January 29.
Sadly, the South African transfer system appears to be broken. Or at the very least, in need of a thorough clean. Every six months we talk about big moves that SHOULD happen, how our R9m record fee SHOULD be broken, how Kaizer Chiefs or Orlando Pirates SHOULD have enough money for a match-winner.
While the rest of the football-speaking world lashes out record-breaking millions, the best a PSL club has ever managed was the reputed R9m Sundowns played Ajax Cape Town for Khama Billiat in August 2013.
In current terms, R9m amounts to about 400,000 British pounds. Even third tier clubs pay more than that in Europe. Remember, when they were still a Championship club, Bournemouth paid 2.5m (R70m) for Bafana Bafana striker Tokelo Rantie in August 2013, around the same time Billiat was leaving Cape Town for Tshwane. And he’s played 10mins in the Premier League this season.
The enormous fees paid in Europe cannot be matched in Africa... but the collapse of South Africa's fee-system remains a staggering but unwritten sensation.
There are obvious players who SHOULD demand more than R9m in the PSL today. Siphelele Ntshangase languishes with NFD club Black Leopards, teenager Phakamani Mahlambi and his Bidvest Wits team-mate Sibusiso Vilakasi should be tempting the Soweto giants.
As I have documented here many times, Stuart Baxter left Chiefs because Bobby Motaung would not allow him a say on recruitment after last season's record breaking PSL title triumph. James Keene, the English journeyman who trialled brightly at Naturena, has just been snapped up by Gavin Hunt and Jose Ferreira at big-spending minnows Wits a year after Chiefs refused to make a move.
When Kaizer Chiefs top scorer Mandla Masango and PSL player of the season Tefu Mashamaite were not given new contracts after winning the championship last year, neither of them could find a local club willing to step in. Incredibly, they both had to decamp to Scandinavia to get a game.
Oh, and they also tried to present Sibongiseni Ngcobo and Andisiwe Mtsila, two “academy” lads, as new signings, along with Lucky Baloyi, because he hadn’t gone out on loan. And, finally, they did a new deal with goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune, clearly on Bobby's terms.
Go through those names. Look for the transfer fees. Try to guess the salaries. These weren’t transfers, these were deals struck between Bobby Motaung and various agents. Neither the out-going Stuart Baxter nor new coach Steve Komphela had any say.
In truth, the European-style transfer swoop is dead in South Africa. That magical, morale-boosting grab, like Petr Cech going to Arsenal for £10million or Anthony Martial to Manchester United for £36million just won’t happen.
While the fans rush around talking in excited tones about Vilakazi going to Kaizer Chiefs after Bobby Motaung (illegally) said he wants to go, the agents are shifting around New Zealanders (five at the last count) and age-cheating journeymen in deeply dodgy dealings with the likes of Motaung and Screamer Tshabalala while their chairmen are given sketchy details.
Just as South African football craves disappearing spray, goal-line technology, disciplinary reviews and referee assessments (and less mid-season breaks), so we need a transfer market that we can all see and appreciate.
Watch closely as this January transfer window saga unfolds. Look for real, serious signings designed to lift a club out of the doldrums. Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates get R50m a year from Vodacom. They should both be spending, given their current positions. Both coaches Steve Komphela and Eric Tinkler are under huge pressure... yet they have no say in who comes and goes.
R10m for Vilakazi, Ntshangase, Abbubaka Mobara or Mahlambi should be possible. Ndoro, Majoro, David Zulu and Ndulula should find new homes. But if certain people don’t get their cut, it won’t happen. If the right agent isn’t wandering around outside the gate with his cell phone, players will remain unhappy and unfulfilled. And so will the fans.
And we’ll end up with more mysterious moves of no-name foreigners and has-beens.
Record-breaking transfers? Exciting last-minute deals? We can only hope. You have been warned.