THE coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has expedited the need for local football to embrace commercialisation in order to stay alive, the Daily News can report.
Ever since the novel virus broke out in March, the government has banned all sporting activities in order to curb the spread of the pandemic.
The 2020 season should have commenced in that same month when the lockdown was declared leaving teams in limbo.
However, this has presented a huge financial burden on clubs that normally rely on gate-takings to fund their operations.
With no games taking place for the last five months and the foreseeable future, there is a huge possibility some clubs could actually fold.
Clubs were hoping their plight would be eased after Zifa received a US$1,8 million relief package from both Fifa and the Confederation of African Football (Caf).
Disbursement of that stimulus package has created a huge debate in the local game with Zifa and the clubs now at loggerheads.
Zifa spokesperson Xolisani Gwesela said football clubs need to find sustainable survival avenues that guarantee their future.
“The amount we received from both Caf and Fifa is definitely huge, but divided among the intended recipients, we can only get enough to solve some, not all of our problems,” Gwesela said.
“It is important for all stakeholders to bear in mind that giving clubs relief funds is only but one of the recommended uses of the funding.
“It is these unexpected situations which should teach us to introspect and seek better ways of accelerating the commercialisation of our game.
“It is only the commercialisation route that can lead to total capacitation and sustainability of our football, should other unforeseen events disrupt the game in future.
“It’s our responsibility to ensure that our game grows through commercial partnerships. External assistance should come while we are seized with own initiatives to keep the game going.”
Although they have spent just two years in the top flight, Bulawayo Chiefs have shown the rest of the league the way to go when it comes to unlocking their commercial value.
The Ninjas have entered into a technical partnership with United Kingdom-based kit manufacturer Leyburn Sports and are set to open a club store in the coming weeks.
Chiefs are already selling their merchandise online with a lot of people placing orders which can sustain the club going forward.
Highlanders recently unveiled genuine leather bags branded with the club’s logo which are going for US$250.
“On top of the satchels, we are actually opening our merchandise line.
“We will be rolling out a lot of products in the coming months,” Highlanders communications manager Ronald Moyo told the Daily News.
Dynamos also launched their replica jerseys ahead of the start of the 2020 season but club chairperson Isaiah Mupfurutsa acknowledged the current pandemic has affected their sales projections.
“We are doing quite a lot as a club for instance the sale of replicas and many more,” he said. “We have those ones that are already on the market but our progress has been slowed by Covid-19.
“We are expecting more goods in the coming weeks.
“It could have been better if football was being played because now few people would priortise buying jerseys but we continue to explore other options.”