THE chaos masterminded by the Phillip Chiyangwa-led Zifa board could cost local football dearly after Premier Soccer League (PSL) sponsors Delta Beverages registered their displeasure at the state of football during the Castle Lager Soccer Stars Awards banquet on Friday night.
BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE/MICHAEL KARIATI
A three-year sponsorship package between PSL and Castle Lager came to end on the day CAPS United won the league championship and the sponsors are threatening to not renew the deal if sanity is not restored in local football.
“There is no sponsor in the world that would sit by and entertain chaos because it has got its own implications on the brand equity that we strive to build for our business. So football must understand that there is no one who is willing to put their money behind a chaotic situation,” Delta Beverages marketing director Maxen Karombo said at the glitzy event.
Karombo’s warning comes as the football-governing body has handed a spate of suspensions and thrown the PSL relegation criteria into disarray.
Zifa suspended PSL chairperson Peter Dube at the start of the month for “inappropriate conduct” during the association’s congress.
This was after the Zifa councillors’ shock resolution to demote four teams instead of two, a position they had agreed to at the start of the year.
Although Shabanie Mine, Bantu Rovers, Black Rhinos and Yadah Stars were crowned champions in their respective regions, they are yet to learn what the future holds for them as there is no solution yet.
At their 2015 annual general meeting, Zifa and PSL had agreed to demote two teams and promote two through play-offs from the country’s four regions — Northern, Southern, Eastern and Central.
Highlanders chief executive Ndumiso Gumede was also banned from all football activities for “peddling falsehoods about the current football leadership in a letter he wrote to Fifa” earlier this year following the short-lived formation of the National Football Association of Zimbabwe.
CAPS United board chairperson Lewis Uriri was also suspended for allegedly inciting club representatives to defy a decision on promotion and relegation passed by the Zifa congress before his suspension was lifted a few days later.
Delta Beverages have been quiet in the midst of all the madness, but Karombo finally broke the silence.
“I must say we are very disappointed with what is going on in football at the moment. Two PSL club chairmen have been suspended acrimoniously. I wish I had good news for you and the nation tonight, but there is no substantive chairman for PSL to work with; we don’t even know the relegation status of the league and such issues also affect us as sponsors,” Karombo said.
Delta’s misgivings come after Sport and Recreation minister Makhosini Hlongwane last week launched a thinly-veiled attack on the Zifa board saying it risked “killing” the local game if it continued on a “political” warpath with its perceived enemies.
Currently, the PSL, which does not operate with a vice-chairperson, is being led on interim basis by a steering committee headed by Dynamos’ Kenny Mubaiwa. The interim committee cannot make binding decisions on behalf of the league.
Delta Beverages are the longest-serving PSL sponsors. The beverage manufacturing giants have been with the PSL for the past six years following a contractual agreement with the Twine Phiri-led PSL board in 2011.
The contract was extended for another three years in 2014 when Delta also brought on board the Chibuku Super Cup — the country’s premier knockout trophy.
However, that marriage could come to an end due to the internal squabbles within the football leadership.
The departure of Delta Beverages would constitute a grievous blow to football as it would claim not only the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League championship, but also the Chibuku Super Cup, which this season was won by Ngezi Platinum Stars.
During the six years of Delta Beverages’ Premier Soccer League sponsorship, a number of other sponsors like Mbada Diamonds, TM, and NetOne have chipped in to bankroll other knockout tournaments.
While he had a lot of praise for PSL alluding to the professional as well as competitiveness thereof, Karombo said it was now incumbent upon football in general to just get organised and return to sanity.