Rufaro closure worries PSL

The Chronicle

Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter

PREMIER Soccer League (PSL) governors have resolved to engage the Harare City Council, in a bid to find common ground and have Rufaro Stadium going through renovations as well as improvements to meet basic standards required to stage league matches.

Fifteen out of the 18 PSL governors attended the extraordinary general meeting (EGM) in Bulawayo at the weekend, with Dynamos, whose traditional home is Rufaro Stadium, Yadah and Bulawayo City conspicuous by their absence.

Rufaro Stadium was shut down in 2019 after being condemned for being unfit to host PSL matches. The Zifa First Instance Board (FIB) that certifies stadiums noted the ceremonial home of Zimbabwean football had uneven turf, poor drainage and ablution facilities.

The shutdown of Rufaro Stadium meant that Harare giants Dynamos had to relocate to the National Sports Stadium where they failed to attract a sizeable number of fans.

Rufaro stadium

It also meant that all Harare teams, DeMbare, Caps United, Harare City, Yadah and Herentals congested the National Sports Stadium, while Black Rhinos and Cranborne Bullets had to relocate to Rusape’s Vengere Stadium. Black Rhinos and Cranborne Bullets also played some of their matches at Sakubva Stadium in Mutare.

Kudzai Bare, the PSL spokesperson said the governors agreed to engage service providers so that they at least have the facilities meeting minimum standards to host topflight games.

“We’ve had challenges with the stadiums during this season. What was resolved at the EGM is that for now, we’re going to focus on Rufaro Stadium by engaging Harare City Council so that they work on the stadium. We will also look at other stadiums that we have so that at least they should have minimum qualifications to host PSL games,” Bare said.

During the just ended 2021/22 season, teams that were using Sakubva Stadium, Manica Diamonds, Tenax CS FC, Black Rhinos and Cranborne Bullets had to relocate to Vengere Stadium prompting Mutare’s local authority to attend to the facility so as to meet minimum standards for PSL games.

When Sakubva Stadium suspension was eventually lifted, Black Rhinos and Cranborne Bullets eventually settled for Vengere Stadium.

As for Rufaro Stadium, whose playing surface has been worked on, giant energy company Sakunda Holdings had undertaken to give it a major facelift to match international standards but withdrew from the project alleging being frustrated by the local authority.

Sakunda Holdings were not amused that falsehoods were being peddled alleging that they wanted to “buy” the facility, yet they undertook the project as part of their social responsibility initiatives.

Harare City Council has come under fire from the public and football officials for stifling development.
Zifa acting president Gift Banda told our Harare Bureau that the local authority had politicised what should have been a purely business deal.

“What Sakunda had done was the right way. There is nothing political in sport. Politics should not be dragged into sport and football in particular. Sakunda would have helped us to get Rufaro to become a Caf and Fifa-accepted stadium.

Gift Banda

In any case, how much revenue is Harare City making at the moment from that stadium vis-à-vis what they are spending on maintenance?

“City of Harare was supposed to try and assist in coming up with a solid contract that was beneficial to everyone and not close out a corporate that is trying to assist,” Banda said.

PSL chairman Farai Jere said: “This was a very important investment in football and it was going to benefit generations to come, and this is something we need to look at from that perspective.” — @ZililoR

Article Source: The Chronicle

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