Tadious Manyepo Sports Reporter
PREMIERSHIP football giants CAPS United have made tremendous strides towards commercialising the club as they bid to make the team a mega-dollar project.
While football has become big business the world over, it is not the case in Zimbabwe where virtually all teams operate at a loss.
Yet, football clubs, including those in Africa, post profits at the end of each year while teams in this country literally wallow in poverty.
Companies have taken advantage of poor strategies, especially by community teams — including Dynamos, CAPS United and Highlanders — who fail to convert their huge following into monetary value, by coming up with their own teams which are now threatening the order.
But it appears the Green Machine have awakened and are ready to roll out a viable business model in the running of the team.
The team’s co-director Nhamo Tutisani said the club is working to transform and professionalise their brand in a way which will see it being able to sustain itself in the not-so-distant-future.
He said the team is courting several corporates whom they are targeting as commercial partners.
“It is a transformation, a professional way of running the club as a business entity. We obviously look at it from a beneficial return on sponsorship basis,” said Tutisani.
“We already have one of our strongest corporate partners, NetOne, whom we believe our relationship will grow even stronger. We are in a good relationship with Nyaradzo Funeral and it is our hope that we will be galvanising the partnership before the 2020 season.
“There are a lot of corporates who we are talking to, including mineral water companies, that we will be partnering with.”
Tutisani said the team’s shirt sponsors, Roar, have since completed designs for the 2020 season.
The pair’s relationship, which started about three years ago, is running until 2023.
Yet, Makepekepe have been one of the poorest teams in terms of player recruitment.
The team has over the years been more concerned about winning the championship rather than developing players for further transfer in the market.
Tutisani said the team will always bear in mind that the fans want to see the Green Machine winning trophies, but they will also try to strike a balance between winning and developing their own products.
“Obviously, we are moving to a stage where we will have to develop our own products. Our recruitment process has taken another direction.
“Players are the core products in a football business. Our emphasis is on their value. In the past we have been recruiting players merely for what they have achieved in the past without taking due consideration on their character.
“We have moved away from that system and we will be aiming to improve on that aspect.
“Our target market, if we are to transfer a player, remains the world’s top five leagues including the English Premiership, Spanish La Liga, French Ligue 1, Italian Serie A as well as the German Bundesliga.
“Other European markets like Turkey, Austria and Sweden are fine. We will also give the South African league the benefit of the doubt.
“But, first things first. We are looking at young, talented players whose character can be improved. We have to groom a player with every attribute both on and off the field of play.”
Tutisani said that approach wouldn’t jeopardise Makepekepe’s chances of winning trophies as it will actually improve the team’s performance on the field of play.
“We need to be playing with flair. We have to pull crowds to the stadiums whenever we are playing. Just imagine that we have been making losses while playing at home.
“We cannot pay to entertain people, but rather the opposite should be true. We are looking at that fact. If you play good football, people will come to the stadium and you won’t make losses.”
CAPS United’s old horses are all likely to be released as the revolution takes effect this off-season period.
Makepekepe failed to land the league title last term in a year they had shown so much promise with experienced players like Dominic Chungwa, Method Mwanjali, Joel Ngodzo, Dominic Mukandi and Hardlife Zvirekwi making the core of the squad.
They have since released 2019 Soccer Star of the Year Joel Ngodzo and Dominic Mukandi who have both signed for Zambian clubs. The Young Warriors pair of Leeroy Mavhunga and Tatenda Tumba as well as Ishmael Wadi have all joined the Green Machine as the team looks to play more entertaining football.
Bulawayo Chiefs’ Brendon Mpofu has also signed for Makepekepe.
Coach Darlington Dodo has been retained and is already aware of the direction the club is taking.
The Herald can also reveal that a technical director from overseas will soon join the club. Of course, another area in which CAPS United is losing a lot in potential revenue is on team merchandise.
Instead of them cashing in on team regalia, it is the enterprising informal vendors who print wares, willy-nilly, who are fattening their own pockets in place of the club.
Tutisani said they are putting strategies to make sure every cent finds its way to the team’s account by setting up merchandise shops across the country or even beyond.
Already, plans are at an advanced stage to brand bottled water sold at the stadium whenever the team is playing at home.