The Sunday Mail
PREMIERSHIP Soccer League (PSL) clubs have poured cold water on ZIFA’s proposal to front a kit deal for them, arguing this was not the kind of relief they were seeking from the football mother body, particularly in the wake of the crippling Covid-19 pandemic.
ZIFA last week told the elite clubs’ governors that they were on the verge of securing an umbrella deal for playing kits and replica jerseys.
It is understood that the kit supplier is Umbro, the British sportswear manufacturer, with whom ZIFA already have an agreement for playing kits and replica jerseys for national teams.
The association’s board member (finance), Philemon Machana told the media they were hopeful the umbrella deal would help clubs create more revenue streams.
“We have made remarkable progress in talking to a reputable international kit supplier who would like to provide kits to willing Premiership clubs.
“The way we want to craft the deal will be such that we create money for our clubs as well.
“If a club wants the kit, they will also be provided with a certain number of replicas which they would be able to sell at a certain price,” Machana said.
But the proposal is set to fall through as clubs prefer to pursue individual initiatives.
Clubs instead, want ZIFA to focus on national teams, which still do not have an outfit they can be identified with.
The top teams contend that the challenges they are facing — for which they needed assistance — were not kit-related.
The clubs questioned whether it was ZIFA’s mandate to source playing kits for them.
Highlanders Football Club chief executive officer Nhlanhla Dube insisted ZIFA were aware of what clubs really needed.
“In the first place, why are they speaking directly to the PSL clubs? What happened to defined lines of communication through PSL?
“What precedent is being set and why? Why is the football association wanting to play the consultant role?
“I am certain their hands are full with the Umbro Warriors jerseys and that’s where they should exert their energy.
“It would be interesting to see their sales figures in that area,’’ Dube said.
Dube said clubs across the country were reeling from Covid-19-induced delays to the start of the 2020 season.
“Clubs are capable of being stand-alone commercial entities and can sell and distribute their various products.
“Their difficulties come from financing. This is where the US$50 000 (from FIFA Forward 2.0 funds) would have been utilised.
“Isn’t that urgent and crippling?’’ Dube said.
Just like Bosso, the majority of PSL clubs are not keen on the ZIFA deal and are questioning the association’s motive.
Others doubt the ZIFA-Umbro move could be meaningful, given that nothing much has materialised from the association’s own deal that was signed amid pomp and fanfare on February 4, 2019.
Manica Diamonds unveiled their own deal with United Kingdom-based sportswear firm, Leyburn Sports, on Friday, while most clubs, including CAPS United, Black Rhinos and 2015 champions Chicken Inn, are not open to ZIFA’s idea.
Chicken Inn have a partnership with Spanish sportswear designer Kelme, while CAPS United have their own deal with Roar.
Chicken Inn secretary, Tavengwa Hara questioned ZIFA’s motive.
“ZIFA should instead campaign or lobby with Government for lower duty or duty-free importation of equipment and merchandise for commercialisation.
“In any case, what success have they had with their own Umbro deal? How many shirts have they sold at ZIFA,” argued Hara.
“They (ZIFA) should have such trials with regional teams which they have direct control over. PSL teams have their own marketing structures to source such deals on their own.
“In any case, any sponsorship talk direct from ZIFA to clubs is not proper because such talk should be directed to the PSL secretariat, because the PSL have got rules and regulations on how to handle blanket sponsorship to its clubs,” said Hara.
Dynamos chairperson Isaiah Mupfurutsa said his club was on the verge of sealing their own kit deal, although he welcomes ZIFA’s initiative.
DeMbare temporarily used an Adidas kit sourced by their sponsor, Gold Leaf Tobacco last season, but now have a partnership with a Belgian firm.
“We are already working out something; we are on the final stages,” revealed Mupfurutsa.
“That ZIFA deal is still at the proposal stage, but I think it’s a very good initiative and can benefit those clubs that do not have their own deals.
“We are yet to get the offer from ZIFA, but we have already made our own arrangements for this season,” Mupfurutsa said.
However, Premiership new boys Cranborne Bullets have been charmed by the idea and indicated that they would soon make a decision.
“Cranborne Bullets are happy with the ZIFA initiative, especially for clubs with limited sponsorship deals,” said club chairperson Douglas Gwite.
“As Cranborne, we will make a decision after finalising with our own sponsors, but as you are aware, Covid-19 brought about a negative effect on the sponsorship front, so many progressive ideas are most welcome.”
For champions FC Platinum, who have their own deal with Kappa, believe clubs with their own arrangements should “be free to continue”.
“ZIFA did not impose; they said it was optional. Those clubs which prefer their own brands or have existing kit arrangements are free to continue with the arrangements,” said FC Platinum secretary-general Benson Virimayi.
Black Rhinos secretary-general Edward Mutukwa said his club would snub the proposed deal.
“All along clubs were negotiating their kit deals, even when engaging sponsors — that is a club’s ideal marketing route.
“That would also be able to project the individual club’s sponsor’s marketing niche.
“ZIFA should concentrate on kit deals for their national teams; they can’t run clubs when they have a spectrum of strata-level teams in age groups that need to be kitted and sponsored.
“Micro kit administration should be left to individual clubs and their sponsors and not to be controlled by the supervisory body,’’ Mutukwa said.
The Premiership clubs are still awaiting ZIFA’s response to their demands to be paid Covid-19 bailout funds in hard currency.