Manchester United games compete for viewers with local matches in African stadiums and on African television screens. Players and supporters are left wondering about the future of the sport on the continent.
The leagues from around the world, including the Premiership, are definitely doing harm to the African game. In many cases, if you go to the parks and the stadiums on the weekend for local matches, you will see only empty seats – everyone has stayed at home or gone to bars to watch Manchester United, Real Madrid or some other European game. This is actually contributing to the decline of African leagues. The situation is different in South Africa because of the size of the economy. Companies try to associate themselves with the big teams here. And the teams are serious commercial players. When you look at a team like the Kaizer Chiefs or the Orlando Pirates, you are looking at a brand worth a billion rand a year. That means that teams can afford to pay their players competitive wages. The salaries are as good as the lower leagues in Europe. Without the same sort of marketing push, African leagues will not manage to stay afloat. African players would rather play and get paid good money abroad. And supporters will continue to just go and watch foreign games●
I think the Premiership showcases the best that Africa has to offer. If you consider the likes of Michael Essien, Didier Drogba and Yaya Touré, they not only perform at the level of their European counterparts, they are also key figures in their teams. The African market isn't strong enough to present these players on a global platform. For a player who doesn't want to leave the continent, I would say that the South African league is the best place for him. Each player has his own idea as to what success is for him and if playing in Europe is it, then that's up to him. There is the money factor, but if they really want to stay and build up their domestic league then they have the option to do that. There is an already made product in the English Premier League. It is the best league in the world and if Africa were to compete they would have to offer something different. I don't think it's not allowing African football to flourish. You can't blame the Premiership for existing. African players have a choice. One thing is for sure, the Premier League wouldn't be the spectacle it is without them●