Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Senior Sports Reporter
HIGHLANDERS Football Club is a gold mine that is being mined using basic tools and there is need to quickly retool so as to get real value from it, newly appointed chief executive officer Nhlanhla Bahlangene Dube has said.
In a wide ranging interview, the former club committee member and secretary general said the mentality of relying on gate takings as the only major source of income after sponsorship needs to come to an end as the club has an immense potential.
“We need to retool, we need to equip ourselves so that we can do ‘extensive gold mining’ if you like. That means we must communicate broadly and effectively and carry our fans along, they must understand what it is that we are trying to do, what we want to achieve so that they buy into our vision,” said Dube.
He said the club cannot rely on gate takings alone because it has no monopoly over that source of revenue due to statutory laws which it has to fulfil from those revenue inflows.
“We certainly can improve the revenue we generate from the gate takings and they are various ways of doing that, but certainly the elasticity from that is restricted in that we share the gate takings, we don’t own the stadium and we come out with a third or less of what comes out of the gates.
“For every dollar that a fan pays for a home match, the club safely remains with between 33 and 35 cents from that dollar. So for every $3, Highlanders at most gets a dollar, so you cannot grow it to more than that because a lot of these deductions are statutory.
“Also the stadium itself can only take a certain number of fans and you want to find a balance between what you charge and the number that can get into the ground. If you charge what the market can’t support at the time, then you will lose your numbers and if you charge too low your take on the dollar drops as well,” said the Bosso head of secretariat.
Dube said Highlanders’ fastest growth was in two zones, growing its sponsorship base and selling its merchandise at a reasonable price.
“We have our main sponsor who has carried us for a number of years but because of the projects that the club has, intends to do and must do, there are gaps and we therefore need to find other partners to fill those gaps.
“If we are to embark on a project that has been thought about for a number of years which is to equip our training facilities we need to find a sponsor. We obviously need to find a sponsor for our junior teams and our women football. This is a huge growth area which does not have a direct sponsorship yet the club has to spend money,” he said.
Dube said the other area which could be a very viable revenue stream was the selling of merchandise. He said many questions have to be answered such as – “Are we using all the sales channels that are available? Do we have the best product mix and can everyone find what they want?
“That is very important because it then becomes club business that we don’t share with other partners, we don’t share that with PSL we don’t share that with the sports commission, we don’t share that with Zifa, we don’t share that with the City Council,” he said.
The former Bosso secretary general said ineptitude on the part of his department has long term effects on the delivery of the club’s objectives but also called on the fans to also take ownership of the club through good behaviour as it has a positive effect on the club’s corporate image.
“Good behaviour by the fans has positive effects on our corporate image and on our sponsorship. It can add serious value on our partners. A negative behaviour from our fans can have far reaching effects, for instance if a fan or two throw oranges on the pitch, collectively, those oranges have a total value of a dollar but they immediately translate to possibly $5 000 in fines from the PSL, they translate into potentially $100 000 or $200 000 that you would have lost from a potential sponsor. So we must understand in real value terms what our behaviour, good or bad does to the image of the club and to its opportunities,” said Dube.
The former secretary general takes over from veteran administrator Ndumiso Gumede who retired last year.
“I take over from a man whose larger than life image we all know and I have to keep the fire burning,” said Dube.