BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
THE Premier Soccer League (PSL) is desperate to start the league this year after almost two years’ absence as they step up efforts to prepare an application for the commencement of the competition that was last played in December 2019.
This is in spite of the fact that sporting activities are currently suspended in the country due to the Covid-19 pandemic while the Chibuku Super Cup is also yet to be completed.
The Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) suspended all sporting activities and events in light of the surge in Covid-19 infections except for athletes preparing for Paralympic and Olympic Games, the cricket team which was hosting Bangladesh, the Warriors’ Cosafa Cup preparations and the Charles Manyuchi title bout early last month.
However, Zifa requested for approval to complete the Chibuku Super Cup which was at the halfway stage and the bid was turned down by SRC a little over two weeks ago while Zifa were asked to reapply after July 26.
But the PSL has stepped up efforts to compile a solid bid for the resumption of league football after more than a year and a half’s absence by encouraging staff and players to get vaccinated and also clubs to make sure that the home stadium is fit to host matches.
“We want to resume the league this year without fail, but this is subject to approval from SRC and government. If we get the approval in December, we will start immediately; if we get approved in October, we will start right away. So as soon as our application is approved we will start the league,” PSL chief executive officer Kenny Ndebele told the Standardsport.
“My communication to clubs which surfaced in the local media last week was because we wanted to put our things in order so that we can compile our application. Unfortunately some failed to understand what it was all about and assumed we were giving players an ultimatum to get vaccinated.
“Of course, we have been pushing for vaccination on our social media platforms if you have noticed. But we are not forcing anybody, we are encouraging players and staff to be vaccinated,” Ndebele said.
“We are simply collecting information from clubs for the purpose of completing our application for the league and we will submit it to Zifa as soon as we are done.
“We are particularly interested in information on the stadia that the clubs intend to use in terms of suitability and availability because in the league clubs use their own home grounds. So we urge clubs to ensure that their chosen home grounds are fit and available to host matches,” he added.
The communiqué reminded clubs of the closure of the transfer window on July 31 and requested members to submit copies of all players’ and officials’ Covid-19 vaccination certificates by August 3.
The PSL also advised clubs that they will be forced to play at a neutral venue if the registered home ground is not ready to host matches.
In the Chibuku Super Cup, which is yet to be completed, clubs were using just four stadiums, namely the National Sports Stadium, Mandava, Barbourfields and Sakubva.
The PSL’s long-term partner Delta Beverages unveiled a US$1,2 million sponsorship package for the 2021-22 season which covers three competitions, the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League, the Chibuku Super Cup and the Castle Challenge Cup.
The Castle Lager Premier Soccer League, initially scheduled to start in July, is sponsored to the tune of