By Robson Sharuko
Atlas Mara, whose BancABC Bank cut ties with Zimbabwean football giants Dynamos and Highlanders after years of bankrolling the country’s two biggest clubs, have just committed themselves to a two-year sponsorship deal with Zambian champions ZESCO United.
BancABC had been the flagship sponsors of both DeMbare and Bosso for the past half-a-dozen years and the bank was credited with helping the Glamour Boys transform themselves into a side that won four straight domestic league titles between 2011 and 2014.
Former Dynamos secretary-general Kazembe Kazembe, who is now the Minister of Sport, Arts and Recreation, noted in 2012 that the Glamour Boys would not have built a strong foundation to dominate the league without BancABC’s support.
“As much as the starting point would be the players, technical team, the board, supporters and the executive who worked together to bring results I think over and above all that we owe it to our sponsors BancABC,” he noted.
“Some would ask why BancABC, but I would like us to look back at the previous seasons at Dynamos and you can see that there have always been squabbles especially over money, but BancABC came along and provided that financial support.
“They have been around for two years now and it is no coincidence that we have won back-to-back championships because they have ensured that players’ salaries and that of the caches are paid on time.
“Because of BancABC’s involvement everyone has been focused and apart from the salaries the bank has provided transport throughout the season which meant that we did not lose sleep over how we were going to travel for fixtures.”
DeMbare president Kenny Mubaiwa last week also heaped praise on BancABC and claimed the Glamour Boys could possibly have collapsed without the helping hand of the sponsors.
“They have always been there for the club and I must say when they came for the first time, they arrived just at the right moment,” he told The Herald.
“We needed a corporate partner to help us out because of the dire impact of the economic situation on sport and again we needed support to compete in the Champions League. It was difficult then. Otherwise Dynamos would have ceased to exist.
“But then they went further and this relationship grew to what it is today, to the extent that you virtually cannot separate Dynamos from BancABC. The bond that we had created with the bank was just too strong. It’s like divorcing your wife of several years.
“You may be separate, but there will always be that link.
“BancABC had become part of our identity, so to speak and one just wonders how it will be like without that logo on our uniforms if they decide not to come back.”
Highlanders have already held a ceremony with the bankers where the two parties celebrated the journey they have travelled together in the past before their divorce.
However, while Atlas Mara have divorced themselves from sponsoring the two local football giants, they have unveiled a two-year sponsorship deal with Zambian champions ZESCO United.
The package is worth K1,7 million (about US$179 000) over two years with K800 000 (about US$82 304) being poured into the coffers of the Zambian champions this year and a further K900 000 (about US$92 592) being injected next year.
About K50 000 (US$5 144) will go towards the club awards.
However, the figures appear to fall short of the US$500 000 which BancABC first invested into Dynamos, with a similar sum going into the coffers of Highlanders, each year in the first phase of their relationship before the package was significantly reduced by half for both teams.
With a number of Zimbabwean players moving to Zambian clubs in recent months, the contrast in the sponsorship packages between the two leagues make some interesting reading and provokes questions about the moves.
For example, ZESCO were given K250 000 (about US$25 720) for winning the Zambian league championship last year while FC Platinum received US$100 000, four times that amount, for being crowned champions in this country.
Runners-up Zanaco received K100 000 (about US$10 288), third-placed side Nkana got US$50 000 (about US$5 144) while ambitious side Buildcon, who have signed a number of Zimbabwean players, including goalkeeper Tatenda Mukuruva and defender Partson Jaure, received K11 000 (about US$1 131) for coming ninth.
City of Lusaka, who finished last, received K7 000 (about US$720) while the bottom-placed club in the domestic Premiership got US$5 000.
Beston Chambeshi was voted Coach of the Year in Zambia and got K20 000 (about US$2 057) while Norman Mapeza received almost double that amount for being voted Coach of the Year on the domestic front last year.
Augustine Mulenga, the Zanaco forward, was voted best player in the Zambian top-flight league and received K25 000 (about US$2 572) for his efforts while Rodwell Chinyengetere took home US$6 000 for winning the domestic award.
In fact, both Kelvin Moyo, who took US$4 000 as the first runner-up and Ocean Mushure, who received US$3 000 for finishing in third place, received more than the Zambian best player.
Chris Mugalu of Lusaka Dynamos won the Golden Boot and got K20 000 (about US$2 057) and Janny Sikhazwe was voted best coach and took home K15 000 (about US$1 543).