BY FORTUNE MBELE
Premier soccer League giants Highlanders have taken their begging bowl to the public for financial assistance as the club’s balance sheet shrunk due Covid19 induced economic hardships.
The last two months have seen players engaging in industrial action to pressure the struggling club to settle dues and with very little prospects of their financial situation improving anytime soon.
Players have not yet received their June salaries.
In a statement, club treasurer Donald Ndebele appealed for a bailout from members, fans and well-wishers.
“Dear Life Members, Ordinary Members, fans and general stakeholders. We make this passionate appeal to you for a collective effort towards the financial needs of the club. Highlanders has for the better part of 2020 and 2021 managed to keep track with all its financial obligations despite the lack of adequate financing sponsorship largely due to the effects of the global Covid-19 pandemic on corporate and social life,” Ndebele said.
He said the club’s value has been eroded by a number of factors including but not limited to inactivity in football and non-attendance of fans at stadia when football resumed before it was suspended again.
“We have, as it is common cause, seen the stop and start of football activities, fanless matches, and limited opportunity for partner and stakeholder visibility value amongst many other negatives that have eroded the club’s value proposition. The costs attendant to the football club’s life have continued to rise against receding income. While we have managed, through various initiatives, to keep pace with the financial demands, the extended period of Covid-19 lockdowns have come to bear with a heavy financial cost to the club and increased the strain and stress immensely,” the club treasurer said.
He added: “It is against this backdrop that we appeal to members, fans, sympathizers, corporate world and the club’s public for financial assistance to meet the immediate requirements for players, coaches and support staff salaries.”
Ndebele said the club will continue to engage potential funders and assured stakeholders on their commitment to ensure the club survives.
In May, the club was forced to augment the players RTGS earnings with a US$80 allowance.
Last year, when COVID-19 struck and the club lost the NetOne sponsorship, Highlanders were relying on donations.