EDITORIAL COMMENT: Soccer administrators must shun arrogance

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IN yesterday’s edition of Chronicle Sport, we carried a story headlined “PSL sponsorship blues”.

The story disturbingly described how the uncertainty surrounding sponsorship negotiations  between the Premier Soccer League (PSL) and potential partners are likely to impact on the start of the 2017 season.

The PSL only indicated last week that the 2017 season had tentatively been set to start at the beginning of April, which is just under two months away.

For something as major as the PSL, one would have expected a concrete date to have been set by now, with only fixtures waiting to be released.

But as at present, every public pronouncements regarding the 2017 PSL are simply mere proposals.

What is going on?

Football’s problem in Zimbabwe like we have highlighted before has and continues to be incompetent management. We will continue to hammer on this until this perennial problem is eradicated.

This incompetence was made manifest in one of the most comical episodes in local football when the Zifa assembly chose to throw the little dignity it had left out through the window by shifting goalposts on the relegation and promotion issue just a couple of games to the end of the 2016 season.

Even by Zifa’s poor management standards, this was unacceptable and it was no surprise that this triggered the ongoing feud with the PSL.

Since that October 2016 Zifa assembly circus, our football has been bouncing from one crisis to another.

The 2016 PSL season ended with no clarity on how many teams would be promoted and relegated until the topflight league decided to compromise last week by reluctantly accepting a revised Zifa resolution to chop two and promote champions of the four regional Division One leagues.

However, the damage in working relations between Zifa and the PSL had been done and it’s clear that repairing trust between the two organisations will probably take new officials on both sides.

The unilateral suspension of PSL chairman Peter Dube from all football activities on flimsy charges in November plunged our football into chaos and quite clearly irked prime league sponsors Delta Beverages through their Castle Lager brand.

Delta marketing executive Maxen Karombo did not shy away from expressing his company’s disgust at the turn of events at last December’s Soccer Stars of the Year awards and hinted that it might be difficult to renew their relationship under such a chaotic atmosphere.

What’s disappointing is that in its quest to unnecessarily assert itself in the running of the league, Zifa didn’t consider the views of existing and potential sponsors.

It was foolhardy of Zifa to simply seek to force the PSL to increase the league to 18 teams when the association has no hand in the day-to-day running of the league.

We know that Zifa has always been hell-bent on self-destruction because it doesn’t have to bear the burden of seeking for sponsorship and therefore doesn’t care that sponsors and potential sponsors want to see marketing value and how putting their money into football will help them grow and build sales and exposure.

Corporates want to know exactly what their sponsorship will provide them and this posturing will certainly not help convince sponsors to fund our league.

Feuding and infighting is definitely a no-go area for sponsors as no one wants to be associated with such. Sponsors are always looking for a good return on investment of their time and money. We want to remind those running Zifa and the PSL that football management is an art and those tasked with that responsibility must connect with all stakeholders, including sponsors.

There are always sponsors out there, but the problem is that our football has been hijacked by people with just a concern to control the purse strings of the little money that trickles in.

Negative publicity has the potential to chase away sponsors and if the PSL loses its major sponsor, Delta Beverages, the 18-team league Zifa forced for the 2017 season will be a disaster and repercussions will be felt both in the short and long term, as sponsors will shun football for fear of soiling their names and brands by associating themselves with impotent and incompetent football administrators.

Spare a thought for the players employed by the 18 teams that will grace the PSL this season. How will they fend for themselves and their families if there’s a flight of the only reliable sponsor the PSL has had?

Our football administrators must shed the arrogance and pettiness they have introduced into our game or be blocked from assuming any role in Zifa or the PSL.

 

Article Source: The Chronicle