THE Premier Soccer League (PSL) is in a three-year deal with Delta Beverages as the rights holders of the top-flight league through their Castle Lager brand.
This is good for football. And to further show their commitment to the game, Delta has gone on to sponsor a 16-team tournament, the Chibuku Super Cup, which will be starting next month and is worth $500 000.
In this difficult operating environment, Delta Beverages must be commended for their continued support of the game and now the PSL has the duty to ensure that their headline sponsors are protected from one-match sponsors.
If one looks at South Africa, you will discover that all tournaments that do not involve all the 16 teams in the Premiership, save for the MTN8, are played before the season starts.
Last weekend, South African clubs took part in various competitions — the Gauteng Challenge, Uthukela Mayoral Cup, Charity Showdown and this weekend, Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates will clash in the Carling Black Label final.
This is all meant to ensure that no other competition — other than approved by the league— takes place during the course of the season and to avoid issues of ambush marketing that many companies often employ to sell their products and services.
The local Premiership has previously operated without a sponsor and we don’t want to return to those dark days again.
That is why the organisers of the CG Msipa Charity Shield and the Bob Super Cup have their tournament before the season starts. This is to avoid a clash with the normal league programme and unnecessary tiffs with the main sponsors of the league.
So we naturally become worried when, in the middle of the season, a company pops up with a two-team tournament.
The league is already congested because stadia in Bulawayo would be closed for renovations to Barbourfields and Luveve stadiums for the Africa Union Region Five Games that will be staged in Bulawayo. We already have the One Wallet Cup, the Chibuku Super Cup and Mbada Diamonds Cup, all agreed with clubs and the headline sponsor before the start of the season.
So we don’t understand how a 90-minute match can be allowed to destroy a three-year sponsorship deal. We are not impressed at all.
And those that are organising it should be made to understand that the future of the league and the 14 teams cannot be sacrificed for a 90-minute game. If the sponsors want an association with football, they should make long-term plans on it and not ambush the league in the middle of the season.
And Twine Phiri, the chairman of the PSL, should be warned that he is there to safeguard the interests of the sponsors and not those that won’t be there when Delta Beverages pulls out.
It is known that Delta, in their new contract with the PSL, wanted a clause to pull out anytime inserted in the final document to safeguard their brand. Delta were right. We must guard against ambush marketing.
Some people will not be happy about this editorial, but the interests of the league, Delta, One Wallet, Chibuku Super Cup and Mbada Diamonds Cup and that of the game at large should be protected.
We are not saying the prospective sponsors are fly-by-night, but we need a longer marriage with the PSL than a 90-minute game, where the league — and all the players — will benefit long term.