Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
CHAMPIONS Chicken Inn grossed $36,875 from their Caf Champions League preliminary round match against Mamelodi Sundowns after 9,773 people paid to watch the Gamecocks shock the Brazilians 1-0 at Barbourfields Stadium.
This was their biggest home crowd since attaining Premier Soccer League status in 2011.
More than 10,000 watched the match if those that got free access into the stadium are considered.
A beautiful goal off a swift counter-attack by Mitchelle Katsvairo in the 34th minute was enough to give Chicken Inn a memorable 1-0 win against the crack South African side.
However, the Gamecocks, who drew the best of support from Highlanders fans, who occupied the Soweto stand, and the Dynamos followers on the Mpilo End, only banked about half their gross, with the rest going to service providers.
The Bulawayo City Council ate the bigger piece of the cake, taking 20 percent of the gross, which amounted to $7,375.
Zifa and the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) each got six percent ($2,212.50), while Caf’s five percent was $1,800 and Fifa ($737.50). The police were paid $1,680.
Applauding supporters for coming in their numbers, the Gamecocks’ board member finance Mlungisi Moyo said there is need for service providers to reduce their charges, which he believes are bleeding clubs.
People from all walks of life watched Saturday’s match, with some motorists leaving their vehicles at Mzilikazi High School while others left theirs near the Caltex garage along Luveve road.
When the game started, there were long queues outside the stadium with some fans only finding their way in at halftime.
“Like what the chairman (Lifa Ncube) said, we’re very grateful to soccer loving people who came in their numbers and showed patriotism by rallying behind our boys. It was a good crowd, the best that we’ve ever had,” said Moyo.
“We had ordered 11,200 tickets and 9,773 people paid their way into the stadium. Unfortunately we had to take home about half of the gross takings because the larger chunk went to service providers. I believe it’s time the Ministry of Sport and Recreation steps in and helped clubs negotiate these service providers’ charges, which are bleeding teams dry,” he said.
Moyo said besides paying service providers, the clubs need cash generated from gate takings to cover some of their day-to-day operations, which include hiring of training facilities, camping, winning bonuses as well as paying match officials’ costs.
Chicken Inn went into camp on Wednesday, taking 22 players to Matopo before checking into a city hotel on Friday evening.
Meanwhile, Ncube is hopeful that their performance against Sundowns, which won them admiration from locals, could have swayed some supporters to their side.
“Our performance convinced the public that Chicken Inn are a force to reckon with in local football. The display by our boys was flawless and the support was magnificent. Hopefully that victory against Sundowns won us, not only respect, but supporters,” said Ncube.
The Gamecocks’ only known supporter is McCloud Moyo, who has been with the club since they were in the promotional league and rarely misses their matches.