Footballers follow the call of the dollar to lower division?
Welldone Ndlovu, Online Reporter
WHILE it may be counterintuitive, it is true that some players in premier football leagues are now choosing to leave their elite teams for the greener pastures of lower-division teams.
It’s a surprising trend, and one that has sparked debate in the football sphere.
Proponents argue that players should be free to pursue financial opportunities, and that the game is evolving to accommodate these new priorities.
This is evident by Castle Lager Premiership club Bulawayo Chiefs that has been on a hiring spree, bringing in new players every season.
But this has come at a cost, as the team has been struggling to retain its players due to low salaries.
This has created a revolving door of talent, with players using the team as a stepping stone to better-paying opportunities.
While this may be good for the players, it’s been a challenge for the team, as they have to constantly rebuild their squad and try to find success on the pitch.
The 2023 season was a tale for Bulawayo Chiefs. On the one hand, they enjoyed a successful campaign on the pitch, credit in large part to their talented squad.
But behind the scenes, the team was dealing with a mass exodus of players, as almost the entire starting line-up from last season has left the club.
This has left the team scrambling to find replacements, and it remains to be seen whether they can replicate their success from last season.
For the players who left, the decision is likely driven by financial considerations, as they sought better opportunities elsewhere.
The mass exodus of players and staff from Bulawayo Chiefs to Sheasham FC has raised some eyebrows, but it’s not hard to see why the move makes sense.
Sheasham is a club with deep pockets, due to their sponsorship from a construction company. This allows them to offer players and staff better salaries and benefits than Bulawayo Chiefs can.
Despite the club’s relegation last season, Sheasham is clearly determined to return to the top flight and is willing to spend to make that happen. Whether this new approach will pay off remains to be seen, but it’s clear that Sheasham is now a force to be reckoned with.
Sheasham FC’s spending spree shows no signs of slowing down, as the club has continued to sign players from the premiership. From Bulawayo Chiefs they signed Kim Joe Sibanda, Khulekani Dube, Brian Rusinga, Blessing Ayanda Ncube and their head coach Lizwe Sweswe who joined Mabhirida in June last year.
Sheasham has also added talent from other top teams in the league such as Rahman Kutsanzira and Ray Lunga both from Bulawayo giants Highlanders FC.
This has led to some speculation that the club is trying to buy its way back into the top flight.
On the other hand, the financial situation at Bulawayo Chiefs has taken a turn for the worse, as some of the team’s players have not shown up for preseason training.
According to a source close to the club, this is because the players are owed money from last season, including signing-on fees and other incentives.
Crucial players who were part of Amakhosi’s success last season boycotted, these include Nkosilathi Ncube and Farau Matare who wants their money from last season.
The players are reportedly holding out until they are paid what they are owed, putting the team’s preparations for the upcoming season in jeopardy. This could be a sign of further turmoil at the club, which has already seen a number of high-profile departures.
Amakhosi have also lost the second runners up Soccer Star of year and their top goal scorer Obriel Chirinda to champions Ngezi Platinum, captain Malvin Mkolo, Simba Veremu and Mthokozisi Msebe to free-spending premiership rivals Simba Bhora.
Ultimately, the current situation facing Bulawayo Chiefs is reflective of the realities of modern football. Players, like anyone else, have families to support and bills to pay. While it is important to maintain the integrity of the sport, it is also important to recognize the financial pressures that players face.
Perhaps a solution can be found that balances the needs of players and the needs of the club, ensuring the future of football in the country.