©️ FOOTBALL experts have warned that most Premier Soccer League (PSL) clubs could be headed for extinction if they don’t adopt a more robust commercial approach.
This comes as the current ban on sporting activities in the country ordered by the government as part of measures to contain the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19) has worsened the already precarious financial position of most top flight clubs.
Most local clubs have no solid financial blueprint as they largely depend on gate-takings for survival, a flawed strategy which can hardly sustain teams, especially in an economy like Zimbabwe.
Things reached alarming levels recently when two of the country’s football giants, CAPS United and Highlanders, received some “donations” to mitigate the effects of the Covid-19 from well wishers.
The donations have been viewed as a mockery to the clubs’ legendary status at a time when these giants should be at the forefront of helping their communities fight the novel virus.
Some of these well-wishers are just desperate individuals who are using these giant clubs to quench their publicity thirst.
“Corporates partner clubs and give them money in order to get mileage as well, I think it’s up to these clubs to know the value of their brand and consider if the mileage they are giving is equal to what they are getting,” former CAPS United forward Alois Bunjira told the Daily News on Sunday.
“It’s up to the clubs to know the value of their brand. It’s all about branding and brand value. But what I have noticed is that in Zimbabwe we don’t seem to have brand pride.
“We usually dwell on statements like ‘half a loaf is better than nothing’ which is wrong.
“There is need to put in place strategies with long term benefits for clubs. This model of doing things is not sustainable and if it persists there will be no future to talk about. Clubs should move away from this attitude that they can survive from gate-takings.
“It’s a pity it had to take something as grave as the Covid-19 to send the message through. With no television to talk about, Zim football will not survive as long we talk about “closed-doors football.”
Ordinarily athletes, musicians and other entertainers would be using their celebrity status to not only spread awareness but also give to the underprivileged during such a period.
Another football commentator, Martin Changachirere, concurred with Bunjira saying it should actually be the other way round.
“There is need for clubs to think outside the box and capitalise on marketing their brands more vigorously instead of players being recipients of meagre donations,” he said.
“Method Mwanjale and his teammates would have complemented the efforts of Zimbabwe internationals Willard Katsande and Tino Kadewere who bought and sent goodies back home.
“Recent events raise serious concerns as to how these big brands are running their affairs.
“I remember at one point Bosso had its own branded mealie-meal packs. What happened to that brilliant idea, nobody bothers to explain? CAPS have been speaking of commercialisation lately.
“The danger of relying on handouts is that it’s non-sustainable and there is no future to talk about. Local clubs need to change their approach.”
In developed leagues, clubs like Chelsea, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspurs, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and Inter Milan are at the forefront of helping their communities cope with the novel virus.
These top clubs are providing food and other basic necessities to members of the public within their vicinity.
Some have even availed their stadia to health authorities who have converted them into temporary quarantine and triage areas since most facilities are now overwhelmed by the high number of patients.
However, in Zimbabwe it is the clubs that are on the receiving end as they are now on the brink of collapse due to the coronavirus lockdown.
The 2020 season should have commenced in March but the spread of the virus has seen those plans fail to materialise.
Recently, the government announced plans to allow some of the sporting codes deemed with less risk to spread Covid-19 to resume training.
Football was considered to be a high risk sport and indications are that as long as the lockdown is in place, the beautiful game will remain suspended.
With such an uncertain outlook coupled with the insipid financial system local clubs have in place, very soon most teams will start to fold.
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