The cash crisis currently prevailing in the country has not spared Zimbabwean sport as Castle Lager Premier Soccer League (PSL) clubs witness dwindling crowds at their home matches countrywide.
BY NUNURAI JENA
The clubs, especially those not funded by corporates, are beginning to feel the heat and are failing to meet their financial obligations that include remitting levies to the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC), PSL, referees, players, ground rentals, the police and above all, the players.
Officials of most PSL teams told Standardsport that levies were milking their coffers dry and it was a matter of time before many clubs folded due to lack of funds.
Reports that big clubs like CAPS United were failing to pay players on time make sad reading, given the fact that players are normally paid last after all the other stakeholders.
Last week, Tsholotsho FC benefactor Mandla Manyathela reportedly relinquished ownership of the club, citing financial challenges, while Border Strikers are also struggling to pay their players who are owed outstanding salaries and sign-on fees.
Home teams feel they are being milked dry by stakeholders, who get a larger share of the gate-takings, with local authorities getting 15 to 20%, Zifa and the SRC getting 6% each, while the police charge per hour.
Of major concern to most PSL clubs is the payment made to the police for security provided during games.
Highlanders have taken the lead in writing to the ZRP requesting a reduction in the rates charged for their services, a request that was, however, rebuffed by the law enforcers.
Recently, the club’s chief executive officer Ndumiso Gumede said his club would seek assistance from Sport and Recreation minister Makhosini Hlongwane in a bid to have the police revisit their fees.
In an interview with Standardsport, the veteran football administrator did not mince his words as he attacked the police for reaping where they did not sow.
Gumede said Highlanders usually got only about 35% from the revenue generated from gate-takings, a percentage he felt was a pittance.
“Just imagine, we are the main actors of the day but we walk away with only 35% from gate-takings when institutions like the police, who mostly do nothing, get the larger chunk. I have written many letters to the police until [Senior Assistant Commissioner] Charity Charamba wrote back saying nothing can be done,” fumed Gumede
Gumede said the situation was being worsened by the dwindling number of spectators because of the cash crisis currently prevailing in the country.
Hwange chairperson Joe Zulu said the difficult economic situation was now affecting soccer in a bad way.
“It all boils down to disposable cash. The situation is equally bad for our supporters because they need to choose between watching a soccer match and meeting their other obligations,” he said.
“Sadly, given such a backdrop of dwindling spectators, the police also want their share, which we feel is more than enough. That is unfair and as clubs, we feel it’s something that needs to be addressed.”
PSL chief executive Kenny Ndebele confirmed that local football clubs were struggling just like other sectors in the country that were being affected by the harsh economic environment.
“We are not operating in isolation When the economy is not ticking, it also affects the attendances at soccer matches and any other sport for that matter,” said Ndebele.
As for the high levies being being paid to stakeholders, Ndebele said it was up to the clubs to come up with a strategy since they make up the organisation, PSL.
Ndebele has in the past urged clubs to train their own stewards in order to reduce the number of police officers required at matches.