By Eddie Chikamhi
Premiership clubs have appealed to sponsors Delta Beverages to consider increasing their package in the domestic game after the league’s traditional partners decided to extend their partnership for 2017 and beyond.
Delta Beverages are today set to end the anxiety that had gripped the football fraternity following a brush between ZIFA and PSL which threatened the long-standing relationship with the sponsor at the end of the previous deal in December.
But the league’s corporate partners, who have been supporting the local game for the past seven years, confirmed yesterday they are coming back into the game following a series of meetings with the PSL leadership.
Club officials who spoke to The Herald yesterday welcomed the decision by Delta Beverages, who have been partners with the local game since 2011, to extend their relationship with the PSL under the current economic climate.
Delta have sponsored the league to the tune of $1,2 million per season in the last three years having increased their package from $600 000 which they invested in the game between 2011 and 2013.
But they revised the purse in 2014 and poured $700 000 to the flagship Castle Lager Premiership while adding the Chibuku Super Cup knockout tournament to the tune of $500 000.
Part of the sponsorship also covers the PSL’s administrative costs. Under the deal, winners of the league got $100 000 while the teams that got relegated received $5 000.
However, there has been a general feeling among the clubs that the sponsorship could be increased again this year to help the clubs conduct their business smoothly.
“We would like to applaud Delta Beverages for their decision to come back to football. They could have ploughed the money elsewhere, but they decided to partner football again which shows they are all weather friends.
“But we want to appeal to them if they could again revise the package at least to help cushion the clubs. What the clubs get at the end of the season and what they put in does not tally at all. Football is expensive business in Zimbabwe, so our sponsors should at least try and up the stakes,” said one administrator.
However, sources told The Herald that the sponsorship will not change despite the increase in the participants in the PSL family this year.
PSL Communication and Media Liaison Officer Kudzai Bare said the fixtures are set to begin next Saturday.
But the league is in dilemma over venues especially in Harare where Rufaro has closed its doors for renovations leaving four teams eyeing the National Sports Stadium as the only option.
Gwanzura was condemned by the ZIFA grounds committee while Yadah’s efforts to revive Chibuku in Chitungwiza hit a brick wall.
“Nothing has changed, we are still expecting the games to start on April 1.
“The fixtures are now out, but we have to note that the release of those fixtures depend on many aspects which may take time.
“As you recall we only managed to have our AGM last week. There were also issues to do with sponsorship and right now we are waiting for reports from the grounds committee on which venues are suitable,” said Bare.
Defending champions CAPS United begin their quest with an away fixture at Shabanie Mine before hosting Harare City in the second week.
Makepekepe travel to ZPC Kariba in Week Three before facing the ever-improving newboys Ngezi Platinum Stars at the Baobab in Week Five.
The Harare Derby follows for Lloyd Chitembwe’s men in Week Seven before they complete their first 10 games with a home fixture against title favourites FC Platinum.
Their traditional rivals Dynamos will kick off their campaign at home against FC Platinum and then travel to Triangle.
DeMbare team manager Richard Chihoro said they are happy to play big games early as they face Makepekepe in the first edition of the Harare Derby in Week Seven and then travel to Highlanders the following week.