Johannesburg (AFP) – Former South Africa national team doctor Ntlopi Mogoru says it is “unrealistic” to expect the country’s Premiership to finish by the end of June as the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread.
League spokesperson Mato Madlala had said that if a three-week national lockdown that began two days ago stems the diffusion of the deadly COVID-19 disease, the season can finish by June 30.
But Mogoru disagrees, saying the bodies of the Premiership footballers are going to “shut down” during the lockdown, which forbids people to leave home except for essential shopping.
“They must extend it (the end of the season) until at least the end of July because players will be extremely unfit when they return to training,” he told the Business Day newspaper.
“Gyms will be closed during the lockdown and some of the players do not have adequate training equipment at home.
“Training at home is not the same as working every day with a dedicated fitness trainer. Some of them are going to eat junk (food), consume too much sugar and drink alcohol.”
Clubs have between six and nine league matches left to play this season, with a title race led by Kaizer Chiefs and the struggle to avoid relegation wide open.
The 16 clubs in the Premiership, which is sponsored by a leading South African bank, receive a two million rand ($115,000/100,000 euro) monthly grant thanks to TV rights and advertising.
Winning the league makes a club 15 million rand richer and the three knockout competitions offer first prizes of eight, seven and four million respectively.