Notice: Undefined variable: fm_appid in /var/www/wp-content/plugins/facebook-members/facebook-members.php on line 71
Tadious Manyepo Sports Reporter
CAPS United’s meltdown, under the sustained pressure of FC Platinum this season, provided another chapter to the takeover script being written by the financially-stable bloc of the domestic Premiership football.
The new rich challengers have won four of the last five league championships — the first time this has happened since Independence in a confirmation of dramatic changes to the landscape.
They have been flexing their financial muscle and casting their huge shadow on the domestic football landscape and, if the off-season activity is anything to go by, one of them will likely win the next league championship.
Chicken Inn finished second in the last campaign and they are so determined to get it right next year they have been the most active club in the off-season transfer business.
Champions FC Platinum are not far off the pace being set by the Gamecocks, while Ngezi Platinum Stars, ZPC Kariba, Harare City and Triangle are also active in the market.
Yet, in the past, this period used to belong to the Big Three of domestic football —Dynamos, Highlanders and CAPS United.
But times have changed.
The few decent players on the local scene are now going where the money is and not where reputation used to be made.
While one would expect CAPS United stars — Valentine Musarurwa, Joel Ngodzo, Dominic Mukandi and Newman Sianchali — to be negotiating for contract extensions with the Green Machine, they are all linked with moves away from the team.
Not that they are no longer wanted, but their likely destination, Harare City, have stable financial books.
The latter’s coach, Lloyd Chitembwe moved from Makepekepe in September for the same reason.
Midfielder Moses Muchenje joined the municipal team from CAPS United early last season because the offer was too attractive to ignore.
Dynamos and CAPS United had both their sights on signing Herentals starlet Juan Mutudza, but it is Chicken Inn who are closer to snatching the Young Warriors midfielder as they have put a massive offer on the table for him.
Already, the Bulawayo team have beaten both giants as well as Highlanders in the race to sign Mushowani captain Clive Dzingai and Hwange left-back Nomore Chinyerere.
Black Rhinos forward Wellington Taderera had also been linked with a move to CAPS United but appears destined for Chicken Inn.
Despite interests from Dynamos, ZPC Kariba’s Ian Nekati could as well find himself back at FC Platinum for obvious reasons.
It is this financial muscle that has seen corporate sponsored clubs eclipsing the traditional giants.
FC Platinum have been building a monarchy on the domestic front after winning the last three league championships.
With the rate they are strengthening their team, their dominance looks set to stretch for years.
If they fail, it’s likely, other well-funded clubs like Ngezi Platinum and Chicken Inn will take their place.
Already Ngezi Platinum, who have finished in the top four in the past two seasons, have appointed one of the country’s top coaches, Rodwell Dhlakama, as the substantive gaffer.
He has since announced plans to sign big name players, including resurgent midfielder Denver Mukamba from relegated Chapungu.
Mukamba’s teammate Ian Nyoni, Blessed Mbavarira and Hilary Mugoniwa are also rumoured to be heading for Mhondoro.
As such, the trio of DeMbare, Makepekepe and Bosso will only have to settle for the rest of the lot.
Army side Black Rhinos are also quite competitive in the league, thanks to hefty sponsorship by mobile network giants NetOne. The mobile company is responsible for paying salaries and allowances for both players and members of the technical team.
In any case all uniformed forces, including the newly-promoted Tenax and Hwahwa, always have ready sponsors who directly or indirectly deal with them.
The two teams from the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services were promoted into the top-flight this season.
Another army side Cranborne Bullets, which was bankrolled by Gtel, could still retain that sponsorship, leaving only Dynamos, CAPS United and Highlanders the only teams running their own selves.
Former CAPS United star Alois Bunjira said football was now a big industry with those paying handsomely attracting good players but community teams can still do well if they put on modern structures.
“Of course the well-sponsored teams have changed the landscape,” he said.
“They have attracted the best players in the country and they will dominate the local scene for some time.
“But I think the so-called community teams have themselves to blame.
“Dynamos, CAPS United, Highlanders, Masvingo United and, to some extent, teams like Chegutu Pirates and Karoi United, can still compete well with these corporate-backed teams if they put their houses in order and take advantage of their communities and huge fan bases.
“They are just not doing business. I believe kids growing up would still want to play for Dynamos, Bosso or CAPS United.
“These teams should be attracting the best players just like everywhere in the world.
“Yes, once in a while, a new team emerges but those top teams should remain big if things are done well.
“But as long as the teams continue being run the way they are, these corporate-backed teams will continue to dominate.
“So, basically, the community teams have lagged behind because of the way they are being run but that gap can easily be closed if they professionalise their operations.”
Veteran football commentator, Charles “CNN” Mabika, believes all clubs should be able to sustain themselves through robust marketing.
“It’s good that corporates are now running teams. This calls for good marketing strategies from other teams to be at the same footing with them . . . ,” said Mabika.
Sports Leaders Institute of Zimbabwe president Russell Mhiribidi reckons community teams have to be alive to modern administration of teams if they are to be competitive.
“The traditional giants have the brands. They have the support base and what more do they want?
“They have to use that status to attract sponsors. What they need is a good marketing strategy.
“They can attract a lot of sponsors and earn own revenue through sale of merchandise and other things. If they can’t do that, the corporate-backed teams will overtake them and will dominate for decades to come as good players will follow where they can earn a living,” said Mhiribidi.