What Daniels' exit from SuperSport United may tell us about the PSL playing field

Clayton Daniels, SuperSport United
The defender had already played five matches for Matsatsantsa before they rather surprisingly announced his contract would be terminated

It came as quite a surprise when SuperSport United announced earlier this week that they would be terminating Clayton Daniels' contract.

Daniels is 36-years-old now but was not showing any major signs of age catching up to him on the field and is still pretty mobile, and as feisty as ever.

It's in the wording of the official SuperSport statement on Daniels' departure which hints as to where several Premier Soccer League (PSL) clubs are right now, as they find themselves financially challenged in the new Covid-19 environment.

“The club has agreed to release the player as we couldn’t agree on a new contract length. SuperSport United has made clear its intention of using this season to blood young players from its MDC structures.”

Also in the statement was this: “We understand his desire to play regularly, but as a club, we have to also have an eye for the future and like Clayton was given a chance at a young age, we have players like Luke Fleurs and TT Dithlokwe who need to have regular game time."

On the one hand, it's admirable that SuperSport want to give youth a chance. But on the other hand, it seemed pretty harsh to cut ties with a player who has given them six outstanding seasons.

As it transpired, Daniels wanted more than a one-season extension. SuperSport decided instead to place their faith in young up-and-coming players, whose salaries will certainly be less than a senior pro like Daniels, who has skippered the club.

Just recently, Cape Town City boss John Comitis also talked about how the pandemic is potentially going to be harsher on older, established players, while at the same time giving youngsters a chance.

"Unfortunately now clubs have realised that sustaining big squads with big salaries is very, very difficult under these economic conditions," Comitis said in an interview with KickOff, "and the clubs are not going to invest in players they are not going to get a return on.

"We'll always have older players in our club," he added. "It's a good balancing act for the younger players, and they bring a certain amount of maturity to the club. But we'll also have to balance that against the number that goes with that you know, the salary number."

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City have sold their most prized asset in Kermit Erasmus, while SuperSport have also sold one of their most valuable players, Aubrey Modiba. Both went to Sundowns.

It's certainly been notable in the transfer window, which shut on Monday, that not too many PSL clubs seem to have a lot of money to spend. There are some exceptions - usually where there is a rich owner bankrolling the club, or a team big enough to still attract good sponsorship deals.

It's also important to note how much output clubs have to make - its not only their first and reserve team players, technical and administrative staff which have to be paid, but in many cases there are also junior teams and club facilities to pay for and maintain. It's a tough business.