The History of South African Football - Part 7

Memba Ben By Memba Ben, 17th Jul 2018 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Sports>Football (Soccer)

Part 7 of a series focusing on the history of South African football. In this article we focus on the financial growth of the game beginning in the 80s.

Money makes the world go round.

The late 70s and early 80s were an important time in South African football as huge strides were being made in the fight against racial segregation with a number of important events such as the formation of the NPSL, the birth of the Mainstay Cup (which is now known as the Nedbank Cup) in 1978 and the signing of Keith Broad to Orlando Pirates, becoming the first white player to sign for a black team.

With all that said, the biggest change in South African football came with the influx of money.

Up until the 70s, football in South Africa was more of an amateur hobby than a professional sport. Players still had to go work a 9 to 5 of some sorts to make ends meet, leagues were run through contributions, owners paid for expense themselves (that is if they actually felt like it) , there were no such things as sponsorships and football wasn’t even televised.

We as fans may not agree on certain things in modern football but it goes without saying that the game has changed a lot of lives for the better and it is because of the efforts of people like Kaizer Motaung.

As quoted from the Kaizer Chiefs website:

Drawing on the lessons he learnt from his experience in the United States, he resolved to establish a professionally run club where, above all, players would be paid what they were promised, on time. This might sound normal these days, but back then most South African club bosses routinely failed to deliver on their promises.

With his business acumen, Kaizer Snr was able to sell his vision of the Kaizer Chiefs brand and knowing the clubs pedigree, companies leapt at the opportunity to be associated with the club.

In 1979, Kaizer Snr took things further and managed to land Kaizer Chiefs one of the first major sponsorship deals when they partnered with Premier Milling and that coupled with the support of other business owners allowed Chiefs to attract the best talent and build the foundation of what the club would later become.

But while it was great that teams like Kaizer Chiefs were gaining financial muscle through sponsorships and support from businesses, it was through the advent of television that South African football became a lucrative venture.

Initially, the state-controlled SABC (South African Broadcasting Corporation) refused to implement the medium in South Africa as the Apartheid regime saw television as a threat to the Afrikaner community ( you have to remember that these guys were nationalists to the nth degree) but many white South Africans (including members of the Afrikaans community) didn't share the regimes view. Adding to that, less developed countries (such as Zimbabwe at the time) had already introduced television. The demand grew and in 1971, the Apartheid regime allowed the SABC to introduce a television service.

While it might've only been allowed in 1971, it took ten years before football found its way onto television sets.

When the first match aired on SABC-TV for the first time in 1981, the floodgates opened and within a matter of two years, commercial sponsorship of football in South Africa exceeded R 1 million (taking into account inflation, that is roughly 22.8 million today).

Because of all the financial investments made into the league and the teams over a span of 37 years, we are now at a point where as of 2015:

• The average monthly wage for a player is R44 000 a month with the highest paid player in the league (Kaizer Chiefs and national team goalkeeper and captain Itumeleng Khune) earning R480 000 a month.
• Teams within the ABSA Premiership receive R4 million in preparatory league money and R1.5 million in monthly allocations.
• The Premier Soccer League having a television rights deal with Supersport satellite sports channel worth R1.6 billion rand.

The game has grown tremendously in terms of finances but as Biggie once said:
"Mo money,mo problems."
and despite the developments, there were some roadblocks coming up along the horizon.

If you happened to miss previous installments in the series:

Sources include:


Football Soccer, History, Soocer, South Africa

Meet the author

author avatar Memba Ben
A fan's view on the business of football.

For more content, head to:

Share this page

moderator Peter B. Giblett moderated this page.
If you have any complaints about this content, please let us know


author avatar hotcheetos
1st Aug 2018 (#)

Interesting stuff Memba Ben.

Reply to this comment

author avatar Memba Ben
2nd Aug 2018 (#)

Hi hotcheetos

It really is. I love football on an aesthetic level but going deeper into its history, theres just so much more fascinating things to discover especially with it being about something you are passionate about.

Thanks for reading!

Reply to this comment

Add a comment
Can't login?