Play-offs impasse causes chaos
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