In 2010, the Premier Soccer League (PSL) had a terrible year in which the 16 clubs competed without any financial support following the withdrawal of two sponsors in succession — the Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe (CBZ) and Econet.
insidesport with MICHAEL KARIATI
It was saddening to see Charles Sibanda receive nothing for being crowned the 2010 Zimbabwe Soccer Star of the Year.
It was also saddening to see the now defunct Motor Action FC invest heavily in new and talented players only for them to come out with nothing despite winning the 16-team PSL championship.
Even attendances at matches dropped significantly as the fans felt their clubs would not give their best due to lack of financial motivation.
It was a sad state of affairs that had an effect not only on the clubs, but also on the players and the fans as well.
Willard Madzivanyika, former director at the now defunct Shooting Stars reflects on that tough period.
“Fewer and fewer people were coming to watch football as compared to the previous year. Our revenue, just like that of the other clubs, dropped heavily. It affected operations,” he said.
The former club director said as a result, clubs struggled to pay their coaches and their players and the standard on the field of play was also affected heavily.
“It is not easy to play without a sponsor.
“Sponsorship motivates the players to perform better, knowing pretty well that they will receive something come end of the year,” added Madzivanyika.
What Zimbabwean football does not need is to be dragged back to those bad football days of 2010.
However, that is the path the PSL appears to have taken since it is two months before the curtain opens for the 2017 soccer season, and there is still no news of who will finance the league.
There were grumblings that the money Delta Beverages was giving out to the PSL was little, but the fact remains that it was better than playing for nothing, like what happened in the 2010 season.
Delta sponsorship was two-fold as the beverage manufacturers also bankrolled the premier knockout tournament — the Chibuku Super Cup — which was won by Ngezi Platinum Stars in 2016.
So, their departure would mean losing the sponsorship for both the league championship and that of the Chibuku Super Cup as well.
It is a fact that in this harsh economic climate, the PSL will not find it easy to sign a deal with other sponsors willing to take over from the beverage manufacturers.
What is clear is that all the previous league sponsors — CBZ and Econet — withdrew their support following clashes between the Zimbabwe Football Association and the Premier Soccer League.
The impasse between the two football bodies has been going on for some time. With no immediate international engagements for the Warriors and the PSL season on break, this is the time for Zifa and the PSL to sit down and find a lasting solution to their problem.
Delta did not say they were severing ties with football, but only expressed their reservations with the actions or behaviour of Zifa regarding their relationship with the PSL.
To salvage the Delta sponsorship before it is completely lost, it is up to Zifa and the PSL to act in unity and talk to the sponsors and assure them that the problems of the past have since been resolved.
Perhaps in that way, Delta Beverages might change their mind, and decide to stay in football for longer.
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