BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
THE Premier Soccer League (PSL) is concerned about the future of some of its members, who are on the brink of collapse, having been hit hard by the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
There are fears that some local PSL clubs, most of whom do not have professional structures, could face collapse as they struggle to stay afloat due to the postponement of the 2020 season, which was due to start in March.
Local clubs have over the years failed to turn the game into a big industry by establishing alternative revenue-generating streams rather than relying solely on sponsorship and gate takings.
The majority of local clubs lack basic support structures such as a secretariat to handle problems, proper communication channels and fundraising initiatives, which are some of the basic requirements of club licensing guidelines.
Club licensing is a tool that was created by Fifa to help football clubs to grow from amateur status to professional self-sustaining business organisations in line with international standards.
The emphasis of club licencing is to create proper football structures, clubs to have offices, qualified personnel, good corporate governance, youth development programmes and proper financial management systems.
However, most local clubs are yet to conform to club licensing and recent events at Harare giants CAPS United, when irate players besieged club vice-president Nhamo Tutisani’s business premises to demand their outstanding salaries, exposed how far local clubs are still lagging behind.
Most top-flight clubs, including giants CAPS United, Dynamos and Highlanders, rely on gate takings for survival and have been hit hard by the indefinite suspension of leagues and events.
Highlanders and CAPS United have been left reeling after the withdrawal of their traditional sponsor, NetOne, with the latter hit harder after embarking on a massive recruitment exercise.
Corporate-owned clubs have also not been spared by the coronavirus-induced financial crisis as Covid-19 has wreaked havoc across the business sector leaving most companies scaling down their operations.
PSL spokesperson Kudzai Bare admitted local clubs had not been spared by the financial impact of the coronavirus.
“Coronavirus has had an impact on all sectors and football has not been spared,” she told Standardsport.
Bare said the league’s immediate focus is to ensure that they put in place measures to provide a safe environment for players when football finally receives the go-ahead from government to resume.
“Football will be played again; right now, we have to follow the government’s directives to stop the spread of the virus. We have also tasked our sports medicine committee to come up with regulations that will be followed once the game resumes, to ensure that the game is played in a safe environment,” she said.
The PSL said it was awaiting communication from Zifa after the local football motherbody revealed plans to provide distressed Premiership clubs with a relief package in a move designed to mitigate the impact of the lockdown on the domestic game.
After receiving funding from world football governing body Fifa and Caf, Zifa is under intense pressure from the local football fraternity to come to the rescue of its affiliate leagues, whose clubs are in dire straits due to the postponement of the 2020 season.