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We need more stadiums

While the whole debate tended to zoom in on blaming Motor Action for their actions, a deeper analysis points otherwise.  I’m of the strong view that this whole debacle stemmed from the lack of stadia in the country, especially in Harare where there are eight teams in the premiership. All these teams at one point or the other compete to get the first preference to use Rufaro because of its strategic location. Rufaro is right in Harare’s oldest and populous suburb, Mbare, which has a history of producing top players and good attendances.

Save for Mambas and Motor Action, who have their own stadia, the other clubs fight over scarce venues that are available in the capital and one could easily deduce that last week’s row emanated from the shortage of playing fields.

It is against this background that clubs must strive to build their own facilities. These premises must be big and one stop shop for their fans, like what happens in some parts of the world. They will house the offices of the clubs and outlets that sell their replica jerseys. It is an investment that may gobble a lot of money at first but one that will benefit generations to come.

While it could be far-fetched, in the long run clubs must dream to emulate big clubs in the world like Real Madrid, Manchester United, Arsenal and Barcelona, and have their grounds.

They might choose to go into partnerships with other institutions who might want to finance their ventures and name the stadia after the sponsors. Alternatively, financially strong companies can also invest in buildings such structures for commercial purposes. A case in point is the First National Bank in South Africa that owns the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg, otherwise known as Soccer City.

Soccer is now a massive investment in the world and my advice to cash-rich organisations is that they should take a plunge and who knows?
The unfortunate part about our scenario is that we have not realised how big this beast called football is, in terms of marketing. The fact that soccer appeals across the divide makes it an appealing investment.

While local authorities in Zimbabwe continue to milk clubs of their revenue through gate takings, the same cannot be said in South Africa, for example, where municipalities pay teams and take care of the rest.

I was in Polokwane recently where I learnt that a small club like Black Leopards get as much as R500 000 to play at Peter Mokaba Stadium, while bigger teams like Kaizer Chiefs are assured of a cool R1 million for playing their home matches.

The municipality in turn recover their investment on gate takings and other avenues like touchline advertisement. Our municipalities can take the same initiative and avoid bleeding clubs.

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