Play-offs im­passe causes chaos

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport - Ricky Zililo

THE de­sire to con­trol the promotional play-offs by an op­er­a­tional com­mit­tee Zifa re­gional bosses agreed on at their meet­ing in Septem­ber is the root cause of this past week­end’s bizarre res­o­lu­tion to rel­e­gate four teams in vi­o­la­tion of a stand­ing agree­ment to chop two.

A 2015 agree­ment re­solved to drop two teams from the topflight and promotional play-offs in­volv­ing win­ners of Zifa’s four re­gional leagues were to be held to de­ter­mine the two teams to take up the open PSL slots for the 2017 sea­son.

The PSL wrote to Zifa on Oc­to­ber 4 in­di­cat­ing that it was pre­pared to cater for the promotional play-offs costs.

“Please be ad­vised that the Premier Soc­cer League did not of­fer to spon­sor the 2016 PSL promotional play-offs. We pro­posed and it was agreed that the PSL will or­gan­ise and run the promotional play-offs. We are still pre­pared to or­gan­ise, at our own costs, the promotional play-offs to de­ter­mine the two teams to join PSL in 2017,” the PSL let­ter reads.

How­ever, some Zifa coun­cil­lors felt that the let­ter signed by PSL chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Kennedy Nde­bele sounded “rude” and de­manded that PSL chair­man Peter Dube with­draws it.

South­ern Re­gion chair­man Musa Man­daza moved the mo­tion call­ing for the PSL to with­draw the let­ter at Satur­day’s meet­ing.

Coun­cil­lors told Chronicle Sport that Dube de­clined to with­draw the let­ter and the North­ern Re­gion’s Martin Kweza jumped to Man­daza’s corner and im­me­di­ately called for the re­vok­ing of a July 25, 2015, Zifa As­sem­bly res­o­lu­tion stat­ing that two teams would be rel­e­gated from the PSL at the end of the 2016 sea­son.

The mo­tion was put to a vote and 16 coun­cil­lors, all be­lieved to be PSL club rep­re­sen­ta­tives, voted against re­vok­ing the 2015 res­o­lu­tion, while 24 coun­cil­lors for it, 13 ab­stained and five were ab­sent from the chaotic ind­aba.

How­ever, what the Zifa coun­cil­lors that smug­gled the promotional play-offs is­sue into the agenda didn’t know was that the PSL had, through Dube, sub­mit­ted a $65 000 bud­get to the Zifa ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee for the event.

“The play-offs is­sue was dealt with at the board meet­ing on the eve of the as­sem­bly and it was agreed that the PSL will not de­posit the money for play-offs into the Zifa cof­fers, but would di­rectly pay ser­vice providers. By then, word was out that the re­gional bosses were not happy with the let­ter and it was agreed that they should be ad­dressed be­fore the as­sem­bly,” said a coun­cil­lor.

The coun­cil­lor said the de­sire to con­trol the play­offs by an op­er­a­tional com­mit­tee that re­gional bosses agreed on dur­ing a meet­ing held on Septem­ber 10 at the new Zifa head of­fice in Chisip­ite also had a bear­ing on the de­ci­sion to re­nege on the stand­ing res­o­lu­tion.

The op­er­a­tional com­mit­tee was to be made up of the Zifa Com­pe­ti­tions Com­mit­tee, which com­prised rep­re­sen­ta­tives from all re­gions, with all re­gional chair­per­sons com­ing in as ex-of­fi­cio mem­bers of the com­mit­tee.

Dur­ing their Septem­ber meet­ing, the Zifa re­gional bosses de­manded that the PSL sub­mit “their com­mit­ment in writ­ing, in­di­cat­ing how much money they have bud­geted for the play­offs. This money will cover trans­port and ac­com­mo­da­tion costs for the teams and also pay­ment of the match of­fi­cials”.

The re­gional bosses also wanted play-offs to be held over three week­ends, Novem­ber 26-27, De­cem­ber 3-4 and De­cem­ber 10-11. How­ever, the PSL felt this would be costly and wanted the play-offs held over a week, to cut costs and pre­vent pos­si­ble ma­nip­u­la­tion of re­sults.

The re­gional bosses also man­dated Zifa North­ern Re­gion chair­man Wil­lard Manyen­ga­vana to hold dis­cus­sions with Kwese TV for the play-offs’ broad­cast rights. They even went fur­ther to pro­pose that pro­ceeds from broad­cast rights would be dis­trib­uted as fol­lows; re­gions 80 per­cent, with the PSL and Zifa equally shar­ing the re­main­der.

Kwese TV does not have a broad­cast li­cence in Zim­babwe and their agree­ment to broad­cast cer­tain pro­grammes on ZBCtv was re­cently ter­mi­nated.

The PSL is said to have been in con­tact with its broad­cast part­ner Su­perS­port, which had agreed to beam the play-offs live.

PSL chair­man Dube de­clined to com­ment on the play-offs im­passe and re­ferred all ques­tions to Zifa.

“Hon­estly it will be wrong for us to com­ment be­cause the na­tional as­so­ci­a­tion or­gan­ised the meet­ing and they shall is­sue a state­ment. Besides, the Zifa pres­i­dent (Philip Chiyangwa) has said he is look­ing into the is­sue,” Dube said.

Chiyangwa told our sis­ter paper The Herald that he would “try, as quickly as pos­si­ble, to find ways of en­sur­ing that the two par­ties find each other again so that we don’t put our foot­ball into dis­re­pute. Zifa runs foot­ball in Zim­babwe and peo­ple have to re­spect that, but what I’m see­ing is that some peo­ple are try­ing to en­gage in what I can de­scribe as foot­ball cap­ture and this isn’t right”. — @ ZililoR

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