The Sunday Mail
DOMESTIC top-flight football clubs are now being forced to explore out-of-the-box survival strategies as they grapple with ballooning expenses, sponsorship nightmares and dwindling revenue streams amid growing uncertainty over the 2020 Premiership season.
Most PSL clubs rely on gate-takings for survival, but with no football action due to coronavirus, Premiership teams are now forced to look beyond turnstile revenue to avoid the possibility of collapse.
The embattled clubs continue to fork out money for salaries and online training programmes with no return on investment, while their sponsors have not been getting the anticipated mileage due to lack of action.
For clubs like newly-promoted Tenax, who struggled to raise the $200 000 PSL affiliation fees in March, luring sponsors has been difficult as the corporate world is also reeling from the fallout of the pandemic.
Sponsors get value for their investment when games are being played and would naturally drag their feet when there is no action to talk about.
“As a club, we are still looking for sponsorships from the corporate world to cushion us. However, a few are responding positively.
“The pandemic has also affected business, so it is not up us, but we will try our best,” Tenax chairperson, Stefani Masina, said.
“We are now looking into starting some income generating projects so as to boost the little we have raised.”
Financially crippled Tenax are just, but a microcosm of the crisis facing PSL clubs.
Giants Highlanders and CAPS United, who were recently abandoned by mobile network firm NetOne, have not been spared.
The CAPS United camp was recently rocked by an industrial action that almost degenerated into chaos, as some players went to the extent of demanding clearance letters after the club had failed to pay salaries.
Black Rhinos recently hiked salaries amid reports that some players were earning as little as $2 000 per month.
“Given the sponsorship nightmares, clubs now have to explore out-of-the box survival strategies,” said one club executive.
Crowd funding, selling of merchandise, player transfers, partnerships with clubs outside Zimbabwe and broadcasting rights are some of the revenue streams being pursued by some local clubs.
Highlanders have upped their engagement with fans on social media, but the club’s chief executive officer, Nhlanhla Dube acknowledges things are tough.
“We have sponsorship fan engagement on our social media spaces. You may want to take a look at our Twitter, Website and Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn to see what activities are happening,” said Dube.
“Our engagements with partners and potential partners continue and can only be made public if and when successful conclusions are achieved.
“Suffice to say, we are hard at work albeit the difficult business environment that many corporate bodies find themselves in.
“Our merchandise will be in the market soon, barring delays faced in shipping products from offshore, this should be a positive contribution to our revenue over time,” Dube said.
Black Rhinos are engaging a number of potential sponsors and will soon start selling replica jerseys.
“We have engaged a top sports company to churn out replicas from which Rhinos will benefit from the sales proceeds,” said club secretary Edward Mutukwa.
“Our organisation deals with a lot of companies in terms of business and these are the organisations who are willing to partner Rhinos as the flagship team,” he added.
Chicken Inn are also onto something, although club secretary, Tavengwa Hara, was not at liberty to disclose the details.
“Something is in the pipeline. I think by next week we will have something concrete,” Hara said.
Cranborne Bullets chaiperson, Douglas Gwite is worried some sponsors might soon be disgruntled by the lack of action.
“Certainly, sponsors get value for money when we are playing, given that we are still in our infancy.
“And Covid-19 has negatively affected the team in that regard,” a worried Gwite said.
“However, various marketing strategies are underway through our strong marketing team.
“Cranborne Bullets will have a combination of partners and sponsors who have opted to remain anonymous as they await the start of the league.
“We currently have baseline support from the army and the Cranborne brand will rapidly grow once the big teams become our prey and we are geared for that.”