Ngqwele Dube, Sports Correspondent
FORMER Zifa vice-president and Highlanders chief executive officer Ndumiso Gumede as well as former Premier Soccer League secretary-general Chris Sambo say they back calls to disband the PSL.
Farayi Mungazi, a Zimbabwean sports journalist working for the BBC in London, wrote in yesterday’s Chronicle that establishment of the PSL was an ill-thought and self-serving idea that should never have been allowed to happen.
Mungazi argued that Zimbabwe’s economy cannot support both Zifa and the PSL and the latter’s birth had had a corrosive effect on Zifa’s bottom line and warned that the knock-on effects would take many years to deal with.
Gumede said it was untenable for the two bodies to continue co-existing and one had to ultimately give way to the other.
Gumede told journalists at the Highlanders’ weekly press conference yesterday that Zifa could not be expected to generate funds when the easiest route was through the PSL. Zifa presently gets a six percent gate takings share from all PSL matches.
He felt the PSL, which wriggled its way out of Zifa in 1992, could be disbanded and fall under Zifa or the mother body could maintain a minimal role in the game and diplomatically run external affairs, while the PSL runs the domestic game.
“I’m talking like this because I have been through the mill and I know how things used to work when I was at Zifa and we were in charge of the Super League. Zifa managed to acquire all properties, which include the office in Bulawayo, the house in Avondale and the infamous 53 Livingstone Avenue in Harare, during this period from funds generated from football,” said Gumede.
“When I was at Zifa, companies would fall over each other to sponsor us and if an entity approached us with less than $100 000, we would just say ‘thank you please go and try Division One’. That’s how good it was; unfortunately most of my colleagues are late, but you can get hold of Frank Valdemarca, who is in Canada, I’m sure he will tell you what I am talking about.”
Gumede felt having two bodies with one calling itself the mother body and the other being a prized entity has not worked in the interest of the game in the country.
He questioned where money levied as fines on PSL teams was going and complained that touchline advertising was not benefitting clubs despite them being the crowd pullers.
Gumede also cited the patronage tendency for hindering development and sponsorship.
“This connections syndrome is the one killing our game. If you don’t have connections, you won’t get a cent irrespective of how good your idea or presentation is. I think we ought to be saying as Zimbabweans we all have a national duty to support the game and put our differences aside,” Gumede said.
Sambo concurred with Mungazi’s submission, saying a large chunk of the football cake was going to the PSL, but there was little investment in the game.
Revenues generated by the PSL, Sambo said, largely funded management salaries and allowances.
“When you stop and think about it, you will realise the PSL doesn’t fund much in terms of football development, junior programmes or national teams. Yes they hold seminars here and there, but how many are they,” said Sambo.
He said the pullout of topflight clubs to form the PSL in 1992 was caused by poor management of Zifa and if the national association were to put its house in order, there would be no need for two competing structures fighting for the same sponsors in an environment where corporate support is hard to come by.
However, former Zifa boss Vincent Pamire said he was opposed to the idea of disbanding the PSL and was of the opinion that the association should sustain itself from its own competitions that involve PSL teams rather than collapsing the Premiership.
“I was one of those at the forefront of the pullout from Zifa and I don’t think a return would help the situation,” said Pamire.
“Zifa should simply be organised and host its own tournaments such as the Zifa Cup from which they can get revenue from gate takings. Poor management led to the disappearance of such tournaments, but their return can help Zifa shore up its earnings,” he said.
Zifa is reeling from a $6 million debt they are struggling to liquidate and have battled to fund the various national teams.
Sambo said Zifa should also get a share of proceeds from television rights and touchline advertising.
“It is unfortunate our clubs are not even receiving a share of income from touchline advertising when international clubs heavily rely on them for revenues,” he said. – @rasmthembo