Tadious Manyepo, Harare Bureau
Caps United, Highlanders and Black Rhinos are in a fix following revelations their principal sponsor, NetOne, are cutting ties with football.
The company will, instead, invest into national efforts to try and contain the Covid-19 pandemic.
The country is currently in a national lockdown as authorities battle to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus epidemic.
All sporting activities, including football, have been put on hold until such a time authorities believe it is safe for such activities.
The 2020 Premiership football season, which was scheduled to start last month, has been frozen and players are training on their own at their homes.
NetOne, who have been bankrolling the trio of Caps United, Highlanders, Rhinos and Chapungu, who were relegated at the end of the season, have called time on their funding of domestic football.
The company will sponsor the Green Machine and Bosso this year, as part of their three-year deal, but the marriage will be ended at the end of the year.
The relationship was supposed to be reviewed at the end of next year.
However, NetOne have given the two clubs enough notice to look for funding, to cover their activities, from elsewhere.
The company bankrolled the salaries of the players and coaching staff at Caps and Highlanders and provided the two giants with financial incentives to try and inspire the teams to do well.
They also provided the playing and training kit and tracksuits, financially backing the trio together with relegated Chapungu, set to take a back seat.
Caps United vice-president, Nhamo Tutisani, said it would be a huge blow but will only provide a detailed response once they receive official communication.
The developments were broken in an article carried in this newspaper yesterday.
“In the event that the sponsorship package has, indeed, been revoked, obviously, it will be a very big blow,” he said.
”But, I cannot say anything as yet. There is no official confirmation from the entity as yet. So, at the moment, we are planning with them in mind.
”Remember, we have a three-year deal with them and this is only the second year.”
Tutisani recently told Harare Bureau his club was taking advantage of the current break to review their policies, including sponsorship.
“We are taking full advantage of the current break, brought about by the coronavirus outbreak, to review all our policies.
”There are policies which needed vv maximum scrutiny before implementation but, because of deadlines involved, we couldn’t do that.
”So, we are doing it now. We have so many policies, including our commercialisation thrust, and also the issue of sponsorship.”
Black Rhinos secretary-general, Edward Mutukwa, said they were in full support of NetOne’s decision to back other sections of the society.
“Obviously, it (the pullout) will have an impact on our operations financially once football starts,” Mutukwa said.
“Anyway, we support the company for redirecting its focus to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We will approach other willing sponsors and, hopefully, the void will be covered though we are aware that the economic environment is not good for the corporate sector.”
Mutukwa hailed NetOne for the role they have played over the years, expressing confidence they will return to football once things return to normalcy.
“NetOne has and will always be our good partner, they should keep up the good work.”
NetOne were in a three-year relationship both Highlanders and Caps United.
But, once the novel coronavirus pandemic fastened its grip, it became evident a lot of things were likely to change, especially in the football circles.
No comment could be obtained from Highlanders yesterday.
However, The Herald has been told although NetOne were pulling out of football sponsorship, the company were impressed with the way Bosso managed their relationship with them.
It could open a window, in the future, for the two parties to work together again.