BY FORTUNE MBELE
THE new Zifa Southern Region board faces a mammoth task of handling clubs failing to pay affiliation fees.
The board meets the clubs in their first annual general meeting (AGM) on Saturday, where, among other things, they will be looking to tackle the challenge of eight clubs owing close to $15 000 from last year.
Board secretary Mehluli Thebe yesterday said while eight clubs were still in arrears from last year, only five clubs had beaten the February 23 deadline to pay this year’s affiliation fees to take part in the Southern Region Soccer League.
Promoted clubs are expected to pay an affiliation fee of $2 500, while the older clubs’ fee is pegged at $2 000.
“So far only five clubs have paid affiliation fees for the league this year and some still owe from last year. Five clubs, including some big teams that are supposed to be taking part in the league this year and three clubs that are no longer with us, owe the league $14 880,” Thebe said.
“The deadline will probably be extended and that issue will be discussed at the AGM to see how the clubs will pay or if they are able to.”
The league had proposed to have 18 teams taking part this year, but as things stand, it looks like the number could be smaller.
“We are ready for 18 teams, if they will be able to pay. But if they don’t manage to pay, the league will go ahead with those clubs that would have paid, even if it means going with a 12-team league. But again, that is an issue for discussion at the AGM,” Thebe said.
Zim Leopards have pulled out of the league citing financial constraints and have requested for a slot in the Zifa Bulawayo Province Division Two League.
“Clubs will be notified of Zim Leopards’ position. Their issue will be highlighted and we will discuss their franchise,” the board secretary said, adding that the board was on the prowl for sponsors to try and lessen the burden on clubs.
“We are working flat out to get sponsors for the league. We realise that referees also owed fees from last year and if we continue to engage them without those fees getting paid, we compromise the quality of our football,” he said.