Arsenal will take on Leicester City in the first ever Friday night season opener kicking off in the English Premier League (EPL).
The 2017/18 season promises to be more entertaining than the previous one, with league clubs already spending one billion pounds on the transfer of players.
Here are some of the fixtures you cannot miss on the opening round:
- Arsenal vs Leicester City, Emirates Stadium - K.O 20:45
- Watford vs Liverpool, Vicarage Road - K.O 13:30
- Chelsea vs Burnley, Stamford Bridge - K.O 16:00
- Everton vs Stoke, Goodison Park - K.O 16:00
- Brighton & Hove Albion vs Manchester City, American Express Stadium - K.O 18:30
- Newcastle United vs Tottenham Hotspurs, St. James Park - K.O 14:30
- Manchester United vs West Ham United, Old Trafford - K.O 17:00
With South Africa's Premier Soccer league returning next week, there are certain elements the local soccer clubs can pick up from England, the world's biggest football league.
1. Hype up the PSL
There is a reason the EPL is the best, the whole world loves English football, and the British are extremely patriotic about this. The EPL has arguably become the most hyped league in recent years. The Premier League Twitter page has amassed over 15 million followers. Manchester United alone has over 12 million followers.
The PSL is regarded as the biggest league in Africa, with Mamelodi Sundowns winning the continental title in 2016. The PSL needs to feed off from the hype and push-forward in Africa. All they need is to believe in themselves like how England knew it was the world's best.
Perhaps the PSL needs to follow this route and do whatever it takes to make the PSL massive and attractive. The local league often fails in filling stadiums to capacity, getting proper marketing, and matches result in an emotional rollercoaster ride that fans have become accustomed to in the EPL. The greatest comparison could be likening the ride to renowned footballer Sergio Aguero scoring a title-deciding goal in the final minute, which still gives us goosebumps.
2. Attract more foreign players
The EPL has played host to a roster of superstar foreign players including Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thierry Henry and Cristiano Ronaldo to name a few. The only player really missing is Lionel Messi, but that would be a bit far-fetched. The PSL is learning how big name players can attract more fans and glamour to the league. Like Benni McCarthy when he came back to South Africa and Steven Pienaar who recently joined Wits.
The Major Soccer League in the US embrace this, they tend to buy out elite football players who have passed their prime in order to make the MLS look good. A perfect example of this was when David Beckham moved to Los Angeles Galaxy from Real Madrid which stunned the world.
The PSL must promote the recycling of players from Europe and top players in Africa so that they can look the part, if they intend to be the best in Africa. Well done Wits on this one.
3. Season tickets
The PSL has season ticket holders but it often does not show in the attendance at stadiums.
A season ticket is when you buy an admission that allows you to watch all the home games of your favourite team. It was designed to ensure that stadiums hosting home games were filled to capacity and to ensure the league remains commercially viable.
Perhaps the PSL needs to consider handing out free season tickets because it has nothing to lose but everything to gain. We need to fix the perennial dilemma of filling up our grounds.