Ricky Zililo Senior Sports Reporter
FORMER football giants Zimbabwe Saints have been expelled from the Zifa Bulawayo Province Division Two League for failing to affiliate and fulfil three consecutive matches. Chikwata, as Saints are popularly known, were ejected from the league together with Zimplow. Saints’ expulsion from the Second Division comes a week after the Zifa Southern Region booted out Trumus and Quelaton from the Division One League.
Chikwata had been angling to take over one of the two clubs’ franchises, but they failed to raise enough money to secure the slots and affiliate. Acting Zifa Bulawayo Pronvice chairman Francis Ntutha said Saints and Zimplow would be receiving their expulsion letters today.
“Zimbabwe Saints and Zimplow are no longer part of the Zifa Bulawayo Province Division Two League because they have failed to fulfil three consecutive matches. They failed to show any commitment and never showed courtesy to respond to the letters we wrote to them asking if they’re still with us. Because of the rules and regulations that govern our game, three weekends have passed without them fulfilling their games and we’re left with no choice other than (to) expel them from the league,” said Ntutha.
This is not the first time that Saints, who were once a force to reckon with in domestic football, have been sent into the wilderness. They were thrown out of Division One in 2014 for failing to pay affiliation fees and remained on the sidelines before registering in the Zifa Bulawayo Province Division Two League last year, where they finished 13th.
Ntutha said Saints and Zimplow can affiliate with the Division Three league, which starts on May 14 if they are interested in playing soccer.
He said last year’s relegated clubs, Kombami and East Rovers as well as two other clubs that are in Division Three would be involved in play-offs this week to determine which two teams will take over the Saints and Zimplow slots.
Saints’ chairman John Nyumbu said they still harboured dreams of playing in the topflight league and would be meeting soon to discuss the future of the club. “We’ll only be able to comment after meeting with the rest of the guys to discuss the way forward. We wanted and we still want to be in Division One, but the direction we’ll take will be determined at the meeting,” said Nyumbu.
It would be difficult for Saints to return to the topflight league as they have perennial financial problems.