1996–97 Premier Soccer League
Inaugural PSL champions
1st South African title
|CAF Champions League||Manning Rangers|
|African Cup Winners' Cup||Kaizer Chiefs (withdrew)|
Mamelodi Sundowns (replaced Kaizer Chiefs)
|Goals scored||692 (2.26 per match)|
|Top goalscorer||Wilfred Mugeyi|
Umtata Bush Bucks
|Biggest home win||Kaizer Chiefs 7–2 Witbank Aces|
Kaizer Chiefs 5-0 Real Rovers
|Biggest away win||Witbank Aces 1–7 Hellenic|
(28 May 1997)
|Highest scoring||Kaizer Chiefs 7–2 Witbank Aces (9 goals)|
The 1996–97 Premier Soccer League, known as the 1996–97 Castle Premiership for sponsorship purposes, was the first season of the newly established top-flight professional football league in South Africa. The league was an 18-team competition established in 1996 by Irvin Khoza, Kaizer Motaung, Raymond Hack and Jomo Sono in conjunction with the South African Football Association and it would run parallel to the European football calendar.
Manning Rangers shocked all and sundry by comfortably finishing top of the log to win the first PSL title ahead of several more fancied opponents. The Mighty Maulers dominated to such an extent that they finished eight points clear of second placed Kaizer Chiefs and a further two ahead of Orlando Pirates. The Soweto duo were left well and truly trailing in the Durban club’s dust.
Admittedly the Amakhosi had a more potent attack and a better defensive record than Rangers, and they lost fewer games, but their propensity to draw matches that they should have won cost them the trophy. It handed Gordon Igesund the first of four PSL titles that he would win in the competition and got South Africa’s brand new top flight league off to a noteworthy start.
Popular clubs Bloemfontein Celtic and Moroka Swallows came in 10th and 11th respectively, not quite the start to the PSL era that their fans were hoping for, while KwaZulu-Natal giants AmaZulu could only finish 14th on the 18-team log.
The first two teams to suffer the ignominy of relegation to the second tier from the PSL were Witbank Aces – who won just four games all season and finished with a measly 19 points – and Michau Warriors. Real Rovers and Vaal Professionals (36 points each) were desperately lucky to finish just a single point ahead of Warriors and avoid the dreaded chop.
The only blot on the inaugural PSL season, although through no fault of its own, would be the abandoned game between Bloemfontein Celtic and Kaizer Chiefs on Sunday 16 February 1997. The game in Bloemfontein was called off in the 40th minute with the home side trailing Chiefs 2-0 due to crowd trouble. Kaizer Chiefs were given the result along with 3 log points due to the trouble with the crowd being instigated by the Celtic fans. This was a rather surprising turn of events as the Celtic fans, while having a reputation for being extremely vocal and passionate, are not known to be unruly.
Final league table
|Pos||Team||Pld||W||D||L||GF||GA||GD||Pts||Notes, Qualifications & Relegations|
|1||Manning Rangers (C)||34||23||5||6||53||28||+25||74||1998 CAF Champions League First Round1|
|2||Kaizer Chiefs||34||18||12||4||56||23||+33||66||Withdrew from the 1998 African Cup Winners' Cup2|
|4||Umtata Bush Bucks||34||16||9||9||45||29||+16||57|
|6||Mamelodi Sundowns||34||13||11||10||35||30||+5||50||1998 African Cup Winners' Cup First Round1 & 2|
|8||Cape Town Spurs||34||14||6||14||40||45||-5||48|
|13||Qwa Qwa Stars||34||10||8||16||39||49||-10||38|
|17||Michau Warriors (R)||34||10||5||19||32||50||-18||35||Relegated to the National First Division|
|18||Witbank Aces (R)||34||4||7||23||26||72||-46||19|
Pld = Matches played; W = Matches won; D = Matches drawn; L = Matches lost; GF = Goals for; GA = Goals against; GD = Goal difference; Pts = Points
(C) = Champions; (R) = Relegated
1 Due to the PSL following a different football calendar to the rest of Africa, which runs over a single calendar year and not the international August–May calendar followed by the PSL, Manning Rangers & Mamelodi Sundowns would only be eligible to enter the 1998 editions of the respective CAF competitions they qualified for.
2 Kaizer Chiefs, who had qualified for the African Cup Winners' Cup, withdrew from the competition and were replaced by Mamelodi Sundowns.
- Worldfootball.net. "Premier Soccer League: Top scorers' list". worldfootball.net.