THE football fraternity has been kept guessing for a long time on whether the Premier Soccer League season opener, the NetOne Charity Shield, was on this season after the sponsors had threatened to pull out last year due to contractual misunderstandings.
The misunderstandings involved one of the top clubs in the country, Dynamos, whose main sponsors BancABC had barred them from using the charity shield sponsor’s branded kit, which resulted in the match almost being called off until the last hour when NetOne gave in and allowed DeMbare to play wearing BancABC branded kits.
However, NetOne held on to the prize money after Dynamos had beaten Motor Action in the final.
But once again, the football world had good reason to ululate and celebrate after the Charity Shield sponsors announced that they were committing themselves to sponsoring the season opener again this year for the third time running.
We have to salute the giant network provider for their sudden change of mind.
The sponsors had all the reason to threaten to pull out after going through some frustrating moments with leaders of both the football governing bodies and clubs not coming out in the open on how the two parties were supposed to reach common ground on that particular issue.
This time around, the sponsors are coming out in full force; hence we expect the tournament to be bigger and better.
According to latest information, the sponsors are working on a system which involves their subscribers who will vote for four teams that are going to participate in this year’s tournament which was previously entered by two top teams in the country, the league winners and the major cup winners.
Apparently, the Charity Shield has for the past two years been dominated by Dynamos and Motor Action who have squared off against each other from the time the cup was launched two years ago.
DeMbare won the cup in 2011 after beating Motor Action before successfully defending it last year beating the same opponents.
This time it’s going to be bigger and better as four teams to have the highest number of votes from NetOne subscribers are going to be drawn into two groups of two for a semifinal berth before the winners meet in the final on the date and venue yet to be confirmed.
My advice is aimed straight at the sponsors, PSL and all the clubs that are going to participate. If a tournament comes with a sound set of rules and regulations, they have to be followed.
The idea of treating some teams as sacred cows is the main reason why we ended up having problems last year.
I hope PSL and other stakeholders have ironed out all the outstanding issues to do with contractual agreements to avoid a situation similar to that of last year. PSL and clubs must know that it takes years or decades to lure sponsors but it can take seconds to lose one, so let’s thrive to safeguard our sponsors.They mean a lot to our football.
With things pointing to the involvement of Dynamos and Highlanders who are both sponsored by BancABC, I urge PSL to move fast and create a workable environment between the clubs, their main sponsor and the Charity Shield sponsors so that when the games begin, we do not spend time in boardrooms, but on the field of play. This is the rightful time to tackle such issues.
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