Ricky Zililo Senior Sports Reporter
OUT of contract Highlanders’ players will have to take a pay cut if they are still interested in donning the black and white jersey next year in what could hinder the Bulawayo giants’ efforts to retain or attract top players.
Highlanders’ chief executive officer Ndumiso Gumede expressed his clubs’ desire to retain most players that formed the 2015 squad, but said Bosso will also negotiate a downward review of wages with the players as the Bulawayo giants look beyond 2016.
He said the Bosso contract with principal sponsors BancABC runs out at the end of 2016 and the club wants to come up with reasonable salaries which are in tandem with the prevailing economic climate.
BancABC reduced their sponsorship from $700,000 in 2014 to $400,000 for the just-ended 2015 season.
Gumede, who has been working overtime during the holiday period trying to renegotiate with some of the players, said the austerity measures they have adopted are meant to arrest the club’s ballooning debt and protect the players.
“We want to retain as many of our 2015 season players as possible, provided they want to stay. Of course, there are going to be casualties. Let me hasten to say there is a small issue that we’ve to deal with. When the BancABC sponsorship was reduced at the beginning of the year, we never passed that to the players. As part of our austerity measures that we are undertaking, we shall be rationalising salaries. We’ve to work on those salary discrepancies,” said Gumede.
“Players with running contracts will not be affected but it’s necessary to reduce the wage bill.
Sometimes those salary discrepancies cause disharmony in the squad and that’s why we want to arrest the problem now. You can’t have someone earning about $1,800 while others are earning $400,” he said.
Although Gumede declined to divulge the first team players’ pay scale, Chronicle Sport can reveal that some senior players take home between $1,500 and $1,800. However, those recently promoted from the club’s junior ranks take home between $300 and $400.
Addressing club members during the annual general meeting held in January, Highlanders’ chairman Peter Dube said: “The sponsorship downgrade means that we will have to come up with new strategies like travelling on match days to eliminate lodging expenses to cut down on costs.”
Among players whose deals are coming to an end today are midfielder Valentine Ndaba, goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda, his deputy Njabulo Nyoni, defenders Felix Chindungwe, Erick Mudzingwa, Webster Chingodza and Mthulisi Maphosa.
Bosso skipper Chindungwe, Sibanda, Ndaba and Mudzingwa were vital in Highlanders’ Easycall Cup win and in inspiring the club to finish a respectable sixth in the league.
Injuries restricted Chingodza and Maphosa to the terraces for the better part of the season and as such their contracts might not be renewed.
Gumede revealed that Chingodza has gone to South Africa for an operation on the foot, which has been giving him problems throughout the season.
On player recruitment, Gumede said they are in possession of a technical report, probably provided by outgoing interim head coach Amini Soma-Phiri and interim technical advisor Cosmas Zulu on the state of the squad and which players to retain.
“The technical department gave us a detailed position by position report and that is what we’re working with. For example, they said the goalkeeping department is okay but we need to add another experienced goalie because the third choice Prosper Mathuthu is still young. In defence, they said it looks almost okay provided none of the players whose contracts are running out leave,” said Gumede.
On the trio of top-notch striker Obidiah Tarumbwa, defender Teenage Hadebe and midfielder Nqobizitha Masuku, who were on loan from Bantu Rovers, Gumede said: “We’re making efforts to retain all our players. We can’t talk of players that we don’t have a hold on. We wanted to retain almost all our 2015 season squad, but that looks impossible now. We will have to talk to those who are available.”
Tarumbwa and Hadebe have attracted the interests of Chicken Inn, who are desperate to bolster their squad for the Caf Champions League ahead of today’s deadline to submit their 25-men squad.
Masuku, who has been on the radar of Zvishavane-based FC Platinum, has reportedly agreed personal terms with the miners.