Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
CAPS United president Farai Jere says the domestic Premiership should humble itself and borrow a number of tips from the way their South African counterparts have transformed their top-flight league into the most lucrative league in Africa.
The Harare businessman, who is in a head-to-head battle with Triangle United boss Lovemore Matikinyidze to become the next PSL boss, said there was an urgent need for a cocktail of measures to drag the local league out of its quagmire.
Jere first took his campaign to Bulawayo on Tuesday, where he addressed the leaders of Highlanders, Bulawayo City, Chicken Inn and Bulawayo Chiefs, before travelling to Mhondoro yesterday where he met the leaders of Ngezi Platinum Stars.
He then met a number of Harare clubs in the afternoon.
He wants to meet each of the leaders of the Premiership face-to-face, to try and sell his vision for the transformation of a league whose glamour has been fading rapidly, as attendance figures plummet and many fans — who used to be regular patrons at its matches — stay away from the action.
Jere has also lined up a meeting with the league’s flagship sponsors, Delta Beverages, next week to present them with his vision, thank them for being the league’s all-weather friends who have stood with them in good and bad times, and to provide them with assurances that he values their priceless support.
The businessman, whose team has been sending his manifesto to the PSL Governors, said in the event he wins the right to lead the league, he will battle to ensure the organisation develop very close links, especially with their South African and Zambian counterparts, whose leagues have been on an upward trajectory in recent years.
The South African Premiership is ranked as the most lucrative top-flight league in Africa, providing its members with an environment that enables all the clubs to thrive without having to carry the huge load that comes with fulfilling their games, and it provided Africa with its champion club, Mamelodi Sundowns, just two years ago.
The Zambian Premiership has been growing in leaps and bounds, in recent years, and —after years of losing some of its best players and coaches to Zimbabwe — it is the one that is now attracting local talent into its ranks while scores of other foreigners, including some from as far afield as West Africa, have been trooping there.
Jere said there was need for the domestic Premiership to borrow a leaf from these two thriving leagues so that it can start the journey back into the light after years of staggering in the darkness.
His vision was unveiled on the very same day that South African Football Association president, Danny Jordaan, arrived in Harare yesterday for a day-long tour in which he exchanged notes with his Zimbabwean counterpart, Philip Chiyangwa, who is also the COSAFA boss.
Ponga Liwewe, who until recently was the Football Association of Zimbabwe secretary-general before leaving his post to concentrate on other business interests, also flew into Harare last night for a three-day visit in which he will meet some of the key stakeholders in the game.
Jere said the domestic Premiership was crying out for a leadership that will turn it around and give the clubs value for being members of the country’s top-flight league.
‘’We have the best league in Africa, in terms of its commercial success, just next door to us but we have never attempted to find ways in which we can work with them so that they help us unlock value of our league and how we can improve our administrative areas,’’ Jere said.
‘’We have encouraged this funny way where we try to isolate ourselves from others, where we live in isolation while the entire world is becoming a global village and reaping huge benefits from that, but that is not right and we have to change the way we do things.
‘’Even our colleagues in Zambia have been on a development trajectory and now a number of our better players are going there but we have never tried to reach out to them so that we exchange ideas and see where they are getting it right and what we could use, in our environment, to improve our lot.
‘’The membership of this league are the owners of the PSL and we have to be open to each other and the days when the owners of the league are kept away from vital information, which has a direct impact on them, should be consigned to the past.
‘’The membership of the league are the bosses, they set the tone and tempo of how the league should be run, they are the owners of the league and those that they employ should answer to them and not vice-versa.
‘’I will insist, in the event that I become chairman, that the PSL affairs are run in a professional, effective and transparent manner.
‘’In this regard, the PSL staff will go on exchange and attachment programmes in Europe to learn new and modern ways of running a professional, successful and viable soccer league.
‘’There is need for exposure to, and cross-pollination of strategic ideas, with advanced leagues
at the administration level.’’
Jere said the league needed to transform its outlook so that it reflects its status as the best league in the country and, more importantly, it gives those who want to be its partners the confidence that there is a huge dividend that can be accrued from such smart partnerships.
‘’We cannot be regarded as a viable league when we operate from under-developed premises. I will, therefore, work diligently to initiate and implement the PSL Village Project,’’ he said. ‘’There is need for the establishment of a respectable home for the PSL — a home that speaks for itself as to our seriousness as a Professional Soccer League and to our determination to develop and grow. ‘’The current premises are not acceptable as home of the PSL. We should not be spending thousands of dollars in hiring hotels for our meetings when these can be held at our premises.
‘’When we invest in property, it gives us the muscle to even approach banks, as and when we need to, so that we can open lines of credit for the betterment of our membership.
‘’That we don’t have such a range of properties, 26 years down the line, just goes to show that we have failed to take our football to the next level. We need to understand that sponsors are not charity organisations but serious business entities. ‘’Sponsorship to a club, PSL or even to ZIFA must make business sense to the potential sponsor in the terms of marketing opportunities, product mileage and product image enhancement.
‘’The issues l have listed above mark the critical path in securing sponsorship. The PSL must show the sponsors that premier football offers a convenient and viable marketing platform for potential sponsors’ products and services.’’