Local Premiership clubs, after struggling to make sense of the business side of football, are spending approximately $1.2 million in a competition that guarantees overall winners $100 000 prize money.
Clubs that spoke to The Herald yesterday revealed they were incurring huge losses because of rising costs.
The situation has been made worse by falling attendance figures.
The Big Three — Dynamos, Highlanders and CAPS United — have not been spared despite the backing of their sponsors such as NetOne and Gold Leaf Tobacco.
Leaders CAPS United, who attracted less than 1 000 paying fans during the midweek game against Triangle, said they have been feeling the pinch.
“The numbers are going down,” said CAPS United vice president Nhamo Tutisani.
“What people need to understand is that football is business and, in our case, even though it’s not supposed to be like that, gate takings form one key component of the revenue sources.
“The money that is collected at the gates is expected to meet all the operational costs of the club.
“But, with the low attendances that we are experiencing, it means clubs are running at a loss, if we are to factor in the costs involved.
“There are fixed costs that we have to deal with regularly, whether the game is played or not, then there are direct match expenses and other overheads.
“After everything is taken into consideration, this usually leaves the club in the negative.”
He said there was need for a change of mindset.
“A lot needs to be done, but first we have to appreciate that football is huge business,” he said.
“Maybe, we have resigned to our fate as a nation and we have accepted that it’s just a pastime.
“But I believe the situation can be turned around. We realise that football is facing huge competition.
“The same talented boy that we want to play football is faced with many other options in their academic life and career pursuits.
“There is competition for the fans as well. In the past we just knew that people will come to the stadium on a Sunday afternoon to watch football, but it’s no longer the same.
“There is counter-attraction from the English Premiership. You will also find out that there will be bigger crowds at Magaya’s church compared to both CAPS United and Dynamos games put together.
“Why? Probably the game is no longer entertaining. That is why we need strategic thinking to get the fans back at the stadium.
“Yes, the quality of our players is a bit compromised but if we can produce Marshall Munetsi and Marvelous Nakamba, who are playing at the highest level in Europe right now, it means the potential is there. Why not invest more in that?
“The media can be great partners, but sometimes the tendency to dwell on negativity, and the obsession with controversy, also affects all the good efforts.”
Giants Dynamos have not been spared.
The club’s marketing and public relations executive, Tinashe Farawo, said they were working around the clock to enhance their business side.
“We are not living in isolation. What affects the other teams also affects us and as football clubs I think we need to do more to market our game and make sure that football becomes an attractive product again.
“Football should be a self-sustaining business. But there are a lot of things to be looked at.
“Fans want to watch entertaining football and once we manage to produce a good product, which gives everyone real value for their money, then people will want to associate with the game.
“And, with the people comes sponsorship and business partnerships.
“So, we have to produce good football and try to retain the best talents.”
The clubs also said the value of the prize money they get at the end of the season had been eroded.
Winners of the league get $100 000 and the amount has lost its value since 2017 when it was unveiled.
“We want to thank Delta for being there for us all these years,” said one official.
“But clubs cannot bank on prize money. Overall winners get $100 000, but you would need something like $1.2m to see you through the whole season.
“Worse, in our situation, by the time that prize money comes, it would have lost its value.”