PSL gamble could backfire

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Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
THE Premier Soccer League’s gamble for a bigger share of the FIFA Covid-19 relief cake, could backfire with the clubs ending up getting less than what had initially been allocated to them.

The 18 top-flight clubs were allocated US$5 500 each, about Z$357 000, but some of the clubs felt they needed a bigger share.

They also demanded that their allocation be paid in US dollars.

The clubs raised the concerns during a recent meeting with the ZIFA leadership, the first such indaba outside Congress, to discuss the state of a game battered by the Covid-19 outbreak.

ZIFA are set to receive U$$1 million from FIFA this week specifically for Covid-19 relief, with US$500 000 set for men football while a similar amount will be for women football.

The association will then receive US$500 000, in January next year, meant to help address the challenges being faced by the men’s game in the country.

CAF will provide a US$300 000 bailout.

However, the funds have generated controversy, with some of the PSL clubs asking for a bigger chunk of the cake, and also to be paid in US dollars.

However, The Herald can reveal today that in the wake of the historic indaba the clubs held with ZIFA, pressure is now being exerted on the association by the lower structures, for a bigger share of the cake.

The lower structures feel that, just like their counterparts, they have also borne the brunt of the Covid-19 pandemic and they should be covered as adequately as the PSL clubs.

“The meeting between ZIFA and the PSL changed things in a number of ways because it triggered concern from the Regions, the Provinces and other constituencies,’’ said the sources.

“These constituencies also make up what is called Zimbabwe football and they are now saying there appeared to be an attempt to treat them as if they were not important.

“They started to argue they were also key members of the local football family and should be treated as such because they have also been hit hard by the Covid-19 outbreak.

“They said while the PSL is the flagship league, it doesn’t exist in isolation as it requires the lower leagues, which are found in the regional and provincial leagues, for it to continue to exist, and function.

“Therefore, according to the regions and provinces, there is need for a review of what was allocated to them when ZIFA came up with the amounts which were to be disbursed because every branch of the game was important and had suffered badly since the Covid-19 outbreak.’’

Pressure is now being exerted on the ZIFA board.

“A lot of pressure is being exerted on the ZIFA board for them to consider such a review and what this could mean, in the worst case scenario for the PSL clubs, is that they could end up getting less than what was originally budgeted for them to get in the first place,’’ said the sources.

“If you calculate the allocation, you will see that the initial structure gave the PSL something like 30 percent of the total value which had been disbursed but, that could be cut in the event the ZIFA board consider the numerous requests that are coming from the lower league structures.

“While, ordinarily, we have seen the top-flight leagues, in other countries, getting the larger chunk of the allocations, when you put it, in terms of a percentage of the overall funds being disbursed, you will see that the money, in one way or the other, ends up being shared equally across all football structures.’’ The four ZIFA Regions were allocated US$100 000, the same amount as the 10 provinces.

“These guys are now saying we have a bigger number, in terms of the members, the players and coaches who have been affected, and the clubs themselves, when compared to just the 18 clubs in the main league,’’ the sources said.

“They have been saying that if ZIFA have decided to bend what they had agreed, then the association should review everything because they also had felt they deserved more but had, for the sake of the game, just accepted what came their way.

“In short, they have been saying that if ZIFA are prepared to go into a meeting with the PSL clubs where they can discuss a possible review of the allocations, then the board should also hold a meeting with them, to hear their concerns, for an upward review of what they got.

“The ball is in the ZIFA board court but, in the event they agree to consider each case, there will be a possibility the amount, which ZIFA had earmarked for disbursement to the main league, will have to come down to ensure a balance for all the constituents.’’

Repeated efforts to get a comment from ZIFA president Felton Kamambo, who has been addressing all issues related to the Civid-19 relief fund, have been unsuccessful for days.

However, ZIFA posted a message on their website providing guidance on how the funds should be used.

“All recipients, save for individuals paid directly by ZIFA HQ must acquit and provide to ZIFA, evidence of such disbursements through a detailed statement and of such payments and transfer copies,’’ the association said.

“Until full utilisation of the proceeds, the recipient must send such statement of acquittals by the 7th of each preceding month without fail.

“ZIFA finance department, or its chosen auditors, can institute spot checks and audits at any time to any beneficiaries save for individuals.

“Only individual beneficiaries, paid directly by ZIFA, do not need to acquit as final end user. The prevailing official interbank rate as given by the banks will be used at time of disbursements.’’