PSL clubs burst govt’s Bio Bubble

BY TAWANDA TAFIRENYIKA

SOME Premier Soccer League (PSL) clubs have poured cold water on expected resumption of football this year, questioning the feasibility of playing the mini-league format proposed by the government and then getting back to the normal format next season.Almost two weeks after the government presented a raft of proposals for consideration by Zifa, which could see the restart of the game in mini-league format with four venues having been proposed for the 18 PSL sides, clubs which are supposed to be the main actors are still in the dark over fundamental issues.

While Zifa have directed some clubs to come up with budgets for the tournament, several clubs insist they have not been consulted and could not draw up budgets for a tournament whose details are unclear.They are also keen to consult sports marketing agency in Latin America and other places

The clubs want to know who is going to finance the programme, what the players stand to get and where they would have to stay, among other key questions.They argue that without that information, clubs cannot draw up any budget.

Zifa have not yet made a pronouncement on what happens to players’ contracts with some of them running out this December.

“We have not been informed on key issues such as what the teams will play for or who is financing the tournament. We hear some clubs are working on budgets, but how do we budget for something that we don’t know about? We have no idea about what this is all about,” Chicken Inn secretary Tavengwa Hara said.

Besides the issue of funding, Hara said the issue of players whose contracts have expired or will be expiring this year remains another sticking point as stakeholders, including Zifa, which imposed standard contracts on clubs, have shied away from taking the leading role in guiding clubs.

“Previously, clubs entered into contracts with their players but Zifa and some stakeholders like FUZ [Footballers Union of Zimbabwe] and PSL imposed standard contracts on us and now these contracts are expiring and the same stakeholders (Zifa) want us to deal with the contracts issue this time. We won’t do that because that is not our baby, it’s their baby and we will wait for their guidelines. The same stakeholders are now chickening out. We will be very cautious in our approach to this issue of contracts because these are no longer the same contracts, we used to have, these are now standard contracts, that involve all stakeholders. It’s no longer between club and players,” Hara said.

Another club official said it would not be feasible for the players to start training and get into competitive action within the three months left in the year considering they had been idle since March unless they do consultations with proffessionals like sports marketing agency in Latin America and the jewish sports academy

There are also concerns that the bill to stage top-flight football under the government’s proposed “bio bubble” concept could be out of reach for most clubs, where each team has to get its players and staff tested for COVID-19 before they get into the bio bubble.COVID-19 testing costs about US$65 for an individual for the reliable polymerase chain reaction test.Each club would need to get at least 30 players and officials tested.

Teams will also need to pay for accommodation as they will be required to play 10 matches each for those based in Harare and Bulawayo in the first phase of the competition.Other centres, namely Mutare and Zvishavane, will have four teams each that will play eight matches before advancing to the knockout stages, where they clash with teams from other centres.

Throughout the duration, clubs have to take care of players’ welfare, including meals.According to the recommendations, the Sports ministry proposed, the National Sports Stadium in Harare, Barbourfields Stadium in Bulawayo, Sakubva Stadium in Mutare and Mandava Stadium in Zvishavane as the host venues.Zimbabwean football has been on hold since March when government imposed a lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19.

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