Doing a Deal in South Africa


South African football embodies the vibrancy of the nation itself, providing opportunities and challenges that every agent, scout, and club must navigate carefully. This week, we shine a light on the unique characteristics of the South African football landscape, offering a detailed look at league structures, transfer regulations, financial details, and cultural influences that shape this dynamic market.

League Structure and System

The Premier Soccer League (PSL) oversees the two top-tier divisions:
1. DStv Premiership: The premier division includes 16 teams playing in a European-style

calendar from August to May. The league follows a round-robin format, with the bottom two teams facing automatic relegation to the Motsepe Foundation Championship.

2. Motsepe Foundation Championship: The second division consists of 16 teams competing for automatic promotion to the DStv Premiership. The two best-placed teams gain direct promotion, while the third competes in a playoff against the 14th- placed team in the Premiership.

Domestic cups, like the Nedbank Cup and MTN 8, along with continental competitions such as the CAF Champions League and Confederations Cup, offer additional competition and exposure.

Closing a Deal in South Africa

Agents working in the South African market should focus on these key considerations:

  • Understanding the Visa Process: Foreign players need a critical skills work visa,supported by a signed club contract (Visa sponsorship).
  • Contract Structure: Contracts typically include bonuses, image rights, and signing-onfees to meet the needs of players while attempting to adhere to the club’s budget.

    CAF Champions League / FIFA Club World Cup Influence

    Success in the CAF Champions League can dramatically increase a club’s reputation and player visibility. Teams like Mamelodi Sundowns and Al Ahly have benefitted from the exposure and prestige of these competitions. The subsequent opportunity to represent the continent in the FIFA Club World Cup further raises the stakes.

    Popular Import/Export Destinations

    South African clubs frequently import players from neighboring African nations and South America. The PSL is a popular destination for Zimbabwean, Namibian, and Zambian players. The export of players often sees talent moving to European clubs, especially to Belgium, Portugal, and the UK, or to other African markets like Egypt and Morocco.

    Patrice Motsepe’s Influence

    Patrice Motsepe, the current CAF President and owner of Mamelodi Sundowns, plays a pivotal role in (South) African football. His leadership at Sundowns helped them become one of the

most successful clubs in Africa, and his influence at CAF aims to elevate the continent’s competitive standards globally.

DStv/SuperSport’s Media Influence

SuperSport, a subsidiary of MultiChoice, is crucial in broadcasting and commercializing South African football. With exclusive broadcast rights for the PSL and other African competitions, SuperSport ensures that South African football reaches millions across the continent, promoting growth and revenue through sponsorships and partnerships.

Biggest Names in South African Football

Benni McCarthy, Lucas Radebe, Steven Pienaar, Pitso Mosimane and Rhulani Mokwena are some of the most popular names who have impacted South African football both locally and abroad.

The Negative Side

South African football also grapples with challenges such as:

  • Corruption: Allegations around match-fixing and administrative corruption haveaffected credibility.
  • Development Issues: Inadequate infrastructure and limited grassroots investmentslow talent development.

    Financial and Tax Details

  • Economy: The official currency in South Africa is the Rand (R), trading at roughly R20to the Euro (May 2024).
  • Highest Transfer Fees: Transfer fees can exceed €2 million, with a league record ofaround €3.2 million (Percy Tau to Brighton).
  • Salaries: Average salaries in the DStv Premiership range between R300,000 andR1 million annually, with the highest earners making over R8 million per year.
  • Tax System: Players earning over R1.5 million annually are taxed at up to 45%, butinternational players on work visas may face additional levies.

    Football Culture

    South African fans are known for their enthusiastic use of vuvuzelas, creating a unique and loud atmosphere at games. Regional and club loyalties, especially between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates, intensify derby matchups. The culture emphasises flair and creativity, reflecting the nation’s diversity.

    Additional Points to Note

  • Diversity in Clubs: Clubs are often backed by influential owners or companies, leadingto stark differences in financial power.
  • Political Influence: Political connections impact decisions at the administrative level.
  • Development Focus: Together with the help of FIFA, SAFA and the PSL are (slowly)working to improve grassroots football.

    By understanding these details, agents, scouts, and clubs can confidently navigate South Africa’s thriving football market.

von Dr. Erkut Sogut und Luis Kircher

1 Comment
  • Only the top club gains promotion in the second tier to the top tier, the runners up and third placed compete with the 15th placed in the first tier in a playoff.

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