BY TERRY MADYAUTA
GWERU-BASED Air Force of Zimbabwe side Chapungu are set to bounce back into the top-flight after Central Region champions Whawha failed to pay the mandatory Premier Soccer League (PSL) affiliation fee by the Friday deadline.
Whawha — together with fellow newly-promoted sides Tenax and Bulawayo City, were recently handed a reprieve the by PSL after missing the initial January 31 and February 21 deadlines to settle the $208 000 affiliation fees.
Whawha, who are owned by the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services, have, however, have since conceded failure to keep their place in the league after failing to secure sponsorship for the upcoming season.
The cash-strapped club’s efforts to clinch a sponsorship deal BancABC failed to materialise, with the financial institution ditching them late on Friday night.
Club chairman Watson Matara confirmed their failure to secure funding to fulfil the financial obligation.
“We got a negative response late last night [Friday]. They [BancABC] told us that they were not in a position to give us money as they are also hard-hit by economic challenges,” Matara told Standardsport.
“Basically, the sponsorship deal failed and we are down and out. We regret this development. We will inform the PSL today [yesterday].”
After Whawha’s failure to pay their affiliation fees, the Central Region League has been pushing for the league’s runners up Sheasham to take up Whawha’s place in the top-flight league.
Sources told Standardsport that the PSL board of governors recently resolved to award the slot to Chapungu, who finished 15th last season.
Chapungu are now under the tutelage of veteran coach Moses Chunga, who won the league with the now defunct outfit, Gunners, in 2009.
“The three teams were given until Friday to settle their affiliation fees and in the event that they fail to meet the deadline, it was resolved no slot would be given to teams, which finished second in their regions,” a source said.
“In this case, since Whawha have failed to pay their affiliation fees, their slot would be given to the team which finished 15th last year.
“In the event that all three teams fail to meet the deadline to pay their affiliation fees, we may end up reverting to the 16-team league format for the season.”
The PSL is also awaiting the conclusion of the Herentals match-fixing saga, which has dragged on for over three months, as the club appealed against a PSL disciplinary committee ruling which plunged them into Division One after they were docked three points.
Herentals, who are accused of fixing their match against Black Rhinos in October, are yet to learn their fate as the case has been controversially postponed three times by the Zifa appeals committee, with judgement now finally expected this week.