By Langton Nyakwenda
There is still no relief for troubled Premier Soccer League clubs who were promised a bailout by ZIFA early this month, with the association’s leaders coy on when and if there will be any package to cushion the teams from the financial impact of COVID-19.
ZIFA had seemed to lift the spirits of the clubs when they announced at the end of the June 6 board meeting that they would by June 20, have unveiled a relief package for PSL clubs who are reeling from a financial crisis wrought by coronavirus.
But that date passed yesterday with no joy in sight for the clubs, some of whose players have resorted to defying lockdown regulations and engaging in money games.
ZIFA, who are sitting on US$700 000 from FIFA and another US$200 000 they received from the Confederation of African Football (CAF), had also indicated at the end the same meeting that they would be unveiling another relief package for the Women’s League.
But just like the Premiership, nothing has been deposited into the coffers of the Women’s League which has not been spared in the tough operating environment.
ZIFA communications and competitions manager Xolisani Gwesela, while acknowledging that they had not done any disbursements, said they were making consultations.
“We are still consulting with some stakeholders,” Gwesela said.
PSL chairman Farai Jere, who had indicated that the league had submitted its requirements to ZIFA, could not shed light on the latest developments, instead referring all questions to the association’s boss Felton Kamambo.
“Thanks for checking, but I am out of Harare for now. You can check with the president (Kamambo),’’ said Jere.
However, pressure has been mounting on ZIFA to help the PSL clubs, who are their cash cow, at a time when the elite sides have been reeling from loss of revenue linked to the suspension of football activities under lockdown.
The domestic football fraternity has slated ZIFA for being indifferent to the plight of the clubs at a time when they desperately need a helping hand to quell unrest in their camps.
The clubs’ dire straits were triggered by the postponement of the 2020 season, which was due to start in March.
Most top-flight clubs, including giants Dynamos, Highlanders and CAPS United, rely on gate takings for survival.
Their players also augment their salaries with winning bonuses, but with no action taking place, some clubs have embarked on cost-cutting measures, including slashing the salaries of their playing and non-playing staff.
Jere’s club CAPS United, who also recently lost the sponsorship of mobile services provider, NetOne, are one of the hardest hit sides. Two weeks ago, disgruntled CAPS United players stormed the offices of club vice president Nhamo Tutisani demanding their outstanding salaries.
And as tempers flared in the mayhem of the demands, some players nearly manhandled Tutisani.
Clubs like Ngezi Platinum Stars have also instituted a probe into reports that their midfielder Devon Chafa may have featured in the unsanctioned games.
DeMbare have intensified surveillance around their players, amid genuine fears they could be tempted to feature in the games being played in some high- density suburbs such as Mabvuku and Budiriro.
While clubs grapple with keeping their camps calm, the Footballers Union of Zimbabwe has called for more dialogue between parties to the contracts and ZIFA, on their part, have also been asked to emulate other associations that have bailed out clubs and players. Sunday Mail