PSL games hit by poor attendance

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BY FORTUNE MBELE

Castle Lager Premier Soccer League clubs are incurring heavy losses as their games have been hard hit by poor attendance despite the top league regaining its aura, having been affected by the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.

Football activity resumed last year with the Chibuku Super Cup, which was played in empty stadiums. The league kicked off towards the end of the year before it took a break to pave way for Africa Cup of Nations finals between December and February.

Upon return, the league has served up some exciting matches, but it seems fans are no longer keen to return to the stadia, preferring to watch the games on television.

Statistics have shown a grim reading with some of the league’s perennial crowd pullers struggling to attract at least 100 fans to their home matches.

Caps United and Highlanders will tomorrow clash in probably the biggest match of the season and the Green Machine is hoping to pull a bumper crowd.

So far, Caps’ biggest crowd was recorded against Ngezi Platinum Stars where 800 fans were in attendance.

Their 6-2 drubbing at the hands of Manica Diamonds must have dampened the spirits of their fans as they had a paltry 600 fans in their next match against WhaWha.

The Makepekepe faithful missed out on tasty serving as Caps walloped the newly-promoted side 6-0.

Gate charges at PSL matches were initially pegged at US$10 for the cheapest ticket, but even after they were slashed to US$1, fans have not  seen reason to attend.

After the resumption of the league after the Afcon finals, Highlanders, one of the biggest crowd pullers in the country, had 2 500 fans at their home 2-0 win over WhaWha on February 20 and the 4-0 drubbing of visiting Herentals last week.

Information gathered from the Bulawayo giants is that a rounded figure of 2 100 fans attended the WhaWha tie and 300 more pitched up at Barbourfields Stadium for the game against The Students.

Champions FC Platinum have also recorded low numbers for their two home matches this year with their game against Dynamos on February 19 bringing in only 887 fans while their game against Harare City at Mandava Stadium on March 5 had 317 fans  in the terraces.

A big crowd is expected tomorrow at the giant National Sports Stadium when Caps, another crowd puller, host Highlanders, in a blockbuster match.

In 2019, Caps averaged about 3 000 fans per match, but with the current numbers, like all other clubs, they are failing to pay for basics.

The demand for COVID-19 vaccination certificates has been cited as one of the reasons why fans are no longer coming to the stadia.

Others have complained about transport challenges, saying public transporter, Zupco, was not reliable.

Another reason could be that the fans got used to watching football on television and social media platforms so much so that they have lost the stadium appetite.

The ongoing European football could be another factor with
the English Premier Soccer League drawing the attention of local football fans.

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