IT is no secret that Premier Soccer League club Caps United, like a number of clubs in the league, are struggling financially due to a number of reasons, chief among them the lack of sponsorship.
Even company-sponsored teams like How Mine have seen their players go on strike over signing-on fees that were supposed to have been paid in January, while Highlanders have cut down winning bonuses due to low attendance and poor results.
The league is poorly commercialised, unlike the Zambian and Kenyan top-flight leagues, and more still needs to be done to bring in the much-needed finance.
Clubs, sadly, have not even embraced the idea of technical sponsors and still depend on buying cheap imitations of global brands for their players and fans, yet big companies are ready to come into Zimbabwe.
And when we hear of individuals like Harare businessman Farai Jere getting involved in the affairs of the team they dumped when they needed him most, we get disturbed.
There is no smoke without fire and the Caps United players could not just have decided to go to Jere’s offices from nowhere.
Jere is a respected businessman who does not want, maybe at this stage, to get involved in football again as he pursues other business interests. He does not want to send the wrong signals to Zimbabwean football because it might change the way football people look at him.
It is good, however, that he has responded to media inquiries on this issue and has clearly stated that he did not meet the Caps United players and does not even want to, even though, technically, he owns 25% of the club and is owed huge sums of money.
The onus now is on the clubs to commercialise their operations and adopt sound business strategies that will help them realise rewards without waiting for weekend home matches for the meagre gate-takings.
The strategy adopted by FC Platinum is setting the standards as they run their own service stations and bars and are in the process of setting up an ultra city in Zvishavane — all in the name of realising self-sustenance and avoid being in the news for the wrong reasons.
And the wrong reasons being failure to pay players’ salaries and winning bonuses, which can lead to such cases like the Caps scenario.
The macro-economic environment under which clubs are operating has not given back the desired results, so clubs need to move beyond dependence on individuals, gate-takings and fly-by-night sponsors and adopt new strategies to harness sponsorships.
Next week, Durban, South Africa, convenes Soccerex and you will be surprised that clubs will fail to send representatives to the event where they can network and share ideas on how to realise value from their brands.
This is a must for all clubs, the league and cup sponsors because the coming-in of SuperSport has also assisted to market the game of football in the country. We need to take advantage of such opportunities and grow our football brands and realise revenue from it.