PSL boss casts doubt on calendar shift

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PREMIER Soccer League boss Kenny Ndebele has dampened the excitement over the perceived change in the football calendar by Zifa, saying the move was not feasible given that other basic conditions haven’t been met.

BY FORTUNE MBELE

Ndebele, who is the league’s chief executive officer, explained that the change of calendar could only be done by the Zifa assembly , adding that what the Zifa emergency committee did at their last meeting was to set possible dates for the resumption of football activities.

He argued that a change of calendar could not be feasible when other key factors such as infrastructure had not been aligned with the rest of the world.

“I am not sure if this proposal is about change of calendar. My understanding is that the Zifa emergency committee has just set an expected timeline for the post-COVID-19 activities. This is obviously subject to further guidelines from the government and other stakeholders. Change of season is a Zifa assembly matter,” Ndebele said.

“The start or restart of football activities is a global matter. Football will restart after all health issues have been considered. I am not sure why there is so much talk about aligning football seasons when we have not aligned with the rest of the world in areas such as governance, club licensing, that is setting up proper structures, youth development, coaches development and infrastructure development.”

Zifa released a statement on Monday following their meeting on Sunday where they tentatively set August/Sepetember as the months for the possible resumption of leagues in the country.

The statement further suggested that this was an opportunity to align the local calendar with those of most European and African countries.

Part of the statement issued by Zifa spokesperson Xolisani Gwesela read:” In its meeting on the May 3 2020, the Zifa emergency committee also noted that other football associations were planning to resume football operations around August/September 2020 and has tentatively set this date as to when our leagues will commence should our government announce the complete end of the lockdown any day before the envisaged dates. The resumption of football activities will also be done in consultation with Caf and Fifa. For Zifa, should the season begin in September such will see us also aligning our football calendar with the rest of the world.”

Ndebele said most calendars the world over were chaotic and the PSL was in consultation with the World Leagues Forum on the way forward.

He was in agreement with Zifa that everything else would follow government guidelines.

“It all depends on government guidelines. We are also in close contact with the World Leagues Forum on some procedures we may follow after government directives. There will be a lot of precautions to be taken before and after the restart. The calendars for most of the leagues are currently in disarray. It may take two or more years to get the calendars aligned,” Ndebele said.

The league chief said the resumption of football activities was a global issue and he was not sure where the talk of aligning the season to the rest of the world was coming from when the country was still seized with feasibility challenges.

The country has been grappling with the issue of proper stadiums with only six facilities approved to host PSL matches in March, a few weeks before the league was set to start before the suspension of all activities due to the coronavirus.

Zifa’s first instance body had approved Gibbo, Vhengere, Barbourfields, Luveve, Mandava and Baobab stadia as the only facilities ready to host local league games.

Prior to the cancellation of games the world over, Zimbabwe had lost out on hosting Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers as the National Sports Stadium and Barbourfields had been condemned by Caf inspectors.