BIG CHAL­LENGE FOR NON-COR­PO­RATE BACKED CLUBS

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page - Ricky Zililo

COM­MU­NITY and in­di­vid­u­ally-owned Premier Soc­cer League teams need to re­think their mod­els and come up with strate­gies that will safe­guard their ex­is­tence to ef­fec­tively com­pete with cor­po­rate-backed clubs.

The 2018 sea­son ended at the week­end, with cor­po­rate-backed clubs oc­cu­py­ing the top four, an in­di­ca­tion of a bal­ance shift.

Zvisha­vane-based FC Plat­inum suc­cess­fully de­fended their ti­tle, with Ngezi Plat­inum Stars, who are pow­ered by Zim­plats, com­ing sec­ond, while Chicken Inn of Sim­bisa Brands were third. Ton­gaat Hul­lets spon­sored Tri­an­gle United ended the sea­son in fourth.

Bu­l­awayo side, High­landers, who are the Castle Lager Premier Soc­cer League’s best crowd puller, were fifth, a place above their 2017 fin­ish.

It is the dom­i­nance of cor­po­rate spon­sored teams that should worry com­mu­nity clubs like High­landers and Dy­namos, who de­pend on the benev­o­lence of some cor­po­rates and in­di­vid­u­als.

An­other gi­ant, Caps United who are owned by PSL chair­man Farai Jere, have also been a ben­e­fi­ciary of cor­po­rate kind­ness.

High­landers, Caps United, who fin­ished eighth, and Dy­namos, who were 11th, were cush­ioned by mo­bile phone net­work op­er­a­tor NetOne and are ne­go­ti­at­ing for con­tract ex­ten­sions with the tele­coms gi­ant.

NetOne’s spon­sor­ship of the three giants eased play­ers’ salary bur­dens, but go­ing into the 2019 sea­son, the clubs will need fi­nan­cial sup­port to sign or re­tain key play­ers, whose con­tracts run out at the end of the year.

Fi­nan­cially strong sides like FC Plat­inum, Ngezi Plat­inum Stars, Chicken Inn and the newly pro­moted sides Man­ica Di­a­monds of Mutare and TelOne, are likely to at­tract the best play­ers in the land be­cause of fi­nan­cial sta­bil­ity.

Min­ing teams, FC Plat­inum, Ngezi Plat­inum Stars and Man­ica Di­a­monds will no doubt bully the trans­fer mar­ket, draw the best play­ers, es­pe­cially those with con­tracts run­ning out at the end of next month.

Dan­gling a car­rot in the form of lu­cra­tive con­tracts is what the fi­nan­cially sta­ble sides are known for to get play­ers as free agents.

In 2018, the league had four in­di­vid­u­ally owned teams, Caps United, Bu­l­awayo Chiefs, whose di­rec­tor is city busi­ness­man Love­more Sibanda, Yadah, owned by Wal­ter Ma­gaya, and Nichrut, bankrolled by Shu­rugwi busi­ness­man Ni­cholas Gara.

There were times when Caps United and Chiefs play­ers went on strike protest­ing over un­paid al­lowances. Even Dy­namos play­ers also downed tools over out­stand­ing al­lowances.

Sha­banie Mine, a com­mu­nity team, got rel­e­gated from the Premier­ship and their fi­nan­cial in­ca­pa­bil­ity was an open se­cret.

Sha­banie Mine went down with lo­cal author­ity bankrolled sides, Bu­l­awayo City and Mutare City Rovers as well as Nichrut.

Some of the teams with fi­nan­cial sta­bil­ity that sur­vived the chop and are ex­pected to come back strongly next sea­son in­clude group of col­leges spon­sored Herentals, who capped a fine de­but sea­son by fin­ish­ing sixth ahead of sea­soned cam­paign­ers like Dy­namos and Caps United.

Elec­tric­ity generators pow­ered ZPC Kariba, who had three points de­ducted for miss­ing the sea­son opener against FC Plat­inum, ended the sea­son in 10th and are ex­pected to emerge stronger next sea­son. — @ZililoR

Wal­ter Ma­gaya

Ni­cholas Gara

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