Topflight football resumption: The unanswered questions – Tell Zimbabwe

File picture: Highlanders vs CAPS-United

Clayton Shereni

Football
clubs in the country have gone for more than a year without kicking the ball,
save for reigning Premier Soccer League (PSL) champions FC Platinum who are
taking part in continental competitions.

As
the curve of the second wave of Covid-19 flattens, PSL has since written to
topflight clubs proposing a four to five week bio bubble tourney starting in
March.

While
other countries which have been severely affected by
Covid-19 have their top division teams playing, Zimbabwean football leaders
have been playing a blame game with government for putting tough lockdown
regulations although these regulations are almost similar to those in some
African countries where football activities are underway. 

Reports
allege that football bosses had been cornered to resume as Fifa sanctions were
reportedly hoovering over local football if at least the topflight league fails
to resume by April this year.

Fans
and other stakeholders have in recent weeks reignited their calls for a return
of football saying there is nothing special in Zimbabwe’s case since it is one
of the least affected nations.

However,
PSL and Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) seems to have bowed down to
pressure and has proposed a bio bubble concept for premier league teams will
take form of group stages, semifinals and 
a final match.

The
proposed concept will see the 18 teams being pitted in four random groups, go
in ‘safe places’, play a mini league for a period of four to five weeks and
teams will be located in Harare, Zvishavane, Mutare/Mhondoro Ngezi and
Bulawayo.

However,
there are unanswered over this proposed round robin bio bubble concept and
these are some of the pertinent questions which should be answered to avoid a
disaster and blame game among authorities.

Is Zifa willing to part with US$
100 000 administrative funds?

The
FA has been at the centre of countless controversies when it comes to the financial
side of football, failing transparency tests especially on the Fifa Covid-19
grant which was advanced to them to cushion clubs against the economic effects
of Covid-19.

Zifa
has claimed bankruptcy in some instances and has been involved in nasty fights
with clubs over the disbursement of the US$1 million Fifa grant which they
converted to local currency although they received the grant in hard currency.

However,
Zifa has not been clear on the exact amount which they disbursed and what was
left in their coffers.

In
the first draft of the proposed bio bubble concept, PSL plans to approach the
local football governing body to fork out US$100 000 towards ‘administrative
costs’ of football in the country.  

These
costs include match officials salaries, television rights and stadia
inspections to mention but a few.

It
however, remains an unanswered question whether the FA will just pump in the
required money without trying to dodge the task at hand.

Do clubs have funding
to sustain accommodation and player allowances?

According
to the proposal, clubs are expected to pay a total of US$2500 towards
registration, find own accommodation and pay player salaries.

Even
if all clubs manage to pay the registration or affiliation fee, accommodation
fees remain an uphill task for many clubs even the ones which are bankrolled by
companies.

Ngezi
Platinum, FC Platinum, Manica Diamonds, Triangle and Chicken Inn FC may be able
to stand toe to toe since they have a firm financial backing but surely this
will be bitter pill to swallow for other clubs.

Fans
won’t be allowed in the stadia and this surely is a major setback for all clubs
especially those without a firm financial backing. Clubs will struggle to cater
for their expenses without gate takings.

For
winners of the league, a sponsorship package will be availed by Delta Beverages
but the exact amount is yet to be known and is likely to be low than the
projected expenses of any club hence clubs operating at a loss.

Players
will also surely demand more and what they will demand and get still remains a
mystery since inflation has soared and the economy being on a life support
system is also another issue which might cause a standoff between players and
management.

Since
players haven’t been receiving little or close to nothing from clubs since the
inception of the lockdown, they might want to bargain and come with big demands
so that they cover for the losses of last year.

Drama
unfolded in the CAPS United camp last year when players were involved in a
brawl with club vice president Nhamo Tutisani over salaries and whether this
won’t be repeated at other clubs still remains unanswered. 

Will all clubs adhere
to the proposed bio bubble concept?

Due
to accommodation costs, it is a cause for concern whether all clubs will surely
be in Covid-19 free places or they will find alternatives for the duration of
the bio bubble.

In
a normal season some financially constrained clubs always travel on Matchdays
to minimize accommodation costs.

Clubs
owned by government institutions especially security forces sides usually sleep
at barracks/camp avoiding hefty charges of lodges and hotels.

Will
this not be the same order in this planned mini league which seems not binding
for all the 18 clubs to be unconditionally involved?

With
the pandemic being the one causing all sorts of problems, having clubs stay at
these usually packed camps should be avoided as to elude a spread of the virus.

The
adherence of clubs to the bio bubble concept is also another unanswered
question whether PSL will have the guts to read a riot act to clubs who might
propose such accommodation options?



Source

Show More
Back to top button
ZiFM Stereo