By Robson Sharuko
The domestic Premiership could be thrown into chaos after Prophet Walter Magaya withdrew his funding of Yadah Stars yesterday following a sensational fallout with the league’s leadership over the way the club has been crippled by the absence of players on national duty with the Warriors.
The club’s match against Bulawayo City scheduled for Barbourfields today now hangs in the balance after Magaya — who is the sponsor of the team — closed the financial tap that has been oiling the side’s operations in protest over what he believes is unfair treatment by PSL bosses.
But, crucially, the future of the club is now bleak and, in the event Yadah Stars disintegrate, as is now likely, the PSL leaders could be found dealing with a complex situation which could affect the status of the championship race. For they could be forced to nullify the results of all the 14 matches which the club has played this season.
Championship leaders Ngezi Platinum Stars could lose three points and five goals, FC Platinum could lose three points and two goals, CAPS United could lose three points and two goals while Triangle could also lose three points and two goals.
There could be a one-point loss for Dynamos, after the two sides settled for a 1-1 draw, and there could be a one-point loss, too, for Highlanders after their duel against Yadah ended in a goalless draw at the National Sports Stadium.
The spectacular fallout between the football-mad prophet and the PSL leadership was sparked by the league bosses’ refusal to grant the club a request for the postponement of their league match against Bulawayo City today.
Magaya had argued that his best three players had been lost to national duty.
The crisis started when Warriors coach Sunday Chidzambwa drafted in defender Jimmy Dzingai, the Yadah captain, as a late replacement for Costa Nhamoinesu who was withdrawn by his Czech club Sparta Prague on medical grounds.
With highly-rated forward Leeroy Mavunga, voted the Premiership’s Rookie of the Year last season, already in the squad for the COSAFA adventure, it meant Yadah now had two players among those who made the trip to South Africa.
However, a third key Yadah player, Byron Madzokere, who had been in camp with the Warriors, was injured while on national duty and the club’s leadership asked the PSL bosses on Thursday for a postponement of their match against Bulawayo City because, they argued, they had lost three players to this national cause.
While Yadah were prepared to fulfil this commitment, had Dzingai remained with them, his last-minute call-up saw them arguing they had lost three players to the same cause and were supposed to be given a choice to call for a postponement of their match.
However, the PSL turned down their pleas and Magaya, who is in South Africa for a three-day crusade, felt the league’s bosses were not sensitive to their plight and decided to take the drastic measures of withdrawing his funding of the club, leaving the team facing an uncertain future.
“I quit…be blessed,” he told The Saturday Herald.
“Ndaneta, this PSL inorwadza, I am telling you. They make money out of us every season and when you ask them to be considerate to your plight they make some funny decisions which impact negatively on the development of clubs and football.
“We wrote a letter to them saying Jimmy had suddenly been taken away from us, Lee was already there with the national team and Byron was injured on this national duty and that means we have three key players whom we have lost because of national duty and we wanted the PSL to postpone our game but they refused.
“Surely, why should we be punished for helping the country? Why should they fix me for supporting the national team not only through the camping facilities, meals and training ground that we provided for the team but also for the players who are now making the grade to play for the country?
“What type of governing is that? What type of organisation is that? Didn’t CAF postpone a Champions League match involving Sundowns recently to ensure that the club finds some space to play Barcelona because just the arrival of this Spanish club here in Africa meant a lot for our football?
“I don’t get any money from sponsoring the team, instead I spend a lot of money but it feels like there are some people in leadership positions who don’t want to see people like us in the game.
“If the team travels to Bulawayo then it’s the supporters taking them there and not me and I pray that ZIFA and (Philip) Chiyangwa use their power to stop this madness because we are destroying the game.
“Last year, they said we were celebrating 25 years of the PSL but did you see any billboard in any town celebrating the players and coaches who helped make the league what it is, of course, there was nothing and you say we are progressing as a league.
“I have always said that my prayer is simple, let’s celebrate those who do something for our country and not only for their stomachs and football is a big part of us as a people.”
Magaya said the PSL leaders were under the illusion that it was easy to sponsor football clubs.
“There is zero benefit in sponsoring local football and all that we have seen are people who used to be rich and powerful going down because of their passion for the game,” said Magaya.
“My passion was to nurture talent and helping some young people to shine. Early this year I said I could not work in such an environment where our efforts are not appreciated but my players refused to join any other club saying they were prepared to go with me to social football.
“And when you consider that these are good players, I felt it was not fair for them and I decided to soldier on. These are loyal players, they are not there for the money, they are there just to play the game and I have borrowed heavily to ensure we soldier on, especially during the time when I was building the factory which drained a lot from me.
“But some people at PSL seem not happy with our presence and better to leave them to do as they please because, maybe, they don’t want clubs that are run by individuals anymore in the league, they don’t want CAPS, they don’t want us.”
He said he remains hurt that Gwanzura and Chibuku, which he tried to refurbish only for his proposals to be rejected, had turned into ghost stadiums. The Herald