Caps brace for tough times

Itai Dzamara

PREMIER Soccer League champions Caps United are basking in the glory of their third ever title, and nobody can deny the team and their faithful a dream festive season.


<
FONT face=”Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif”>But after the partying is over reality will eventually dawn in the face of the Green Machine as they focus on participating in the African Champions League, which could turn into a nightmare.


The costs of participating in the prestigious African Champions League are huge. Just like the other local teams that have in the past participated in continental competitions, Caps are likely to suffer the effects of lack of investment in local soccer.


Investigations by IndependentSport have shown that the premiership champions would need huge amounts of money to plan for the champions’ league.


It also emerged that their rewards for winning the championship, the knockout Buddie Challenge Cup tournament and possibly the Zifa Unity Cup, which was still being played yesterday by the time of going to print, are almost negligible in the face of their challenges next year.


Caps were given $60 million prize money for winning the Buddie Cup, $30 million for clinching the championship and winners of the Zifa Unity Cup were guaranteed $80 million, which could give them a gross of $170 million.

The club’s executive has been forced to reconsider the plans of taking the team to Europe for camp and is likely to shelve them.


Caps United treasurer Ziyambi Ziyambi this week admitted his executive was scratching heads ahead of the continental flirtation.


“We are hard pressed and are still deliberating if it will be possible to go to Europe,” he said. “The challenge is quite enormous and we definitely can’t go it alone. We are mobilising our resources and have set up a fundraising committee to approach the corporate world for assistance. I can’t give figures of how much we are looking at but it is a tough challenge.”


IndependentSport has established that despite the victories, the champions’ executive has been enduring headaches each month to pay players’ bonuses and salaries. Figures obtained confidentially show that assuming the champions won all matches played in a month, usually adding up to four, the monthly salary and bonuses bill amounted to $130 million.


Caps only lost once this year and that means they were paying winning bonuses on an almost weekly basis.


Although the good times also included Caps’ fans coming to the stadiums, the fact that they have always been fewer in numbers compared to other powerhouses such as Dynamos and Highlanders always meant they couldn’t fill the stadiums. That affected the ability to realise huge amounts from gate entry revenue.


On average a home match earned Caps about $10 million from gate entry revenues after deductions. That amount was less than half of the required amount for winning bonuses for one match.


Ziyambi said the champions have had to borrow on several occasions this year to keep the ball rolling.


“It has been very difficult to run the club this year. We have experienced cash flow crises again and again and at times had to borrow. We were paying winning bonuses all year round and gate takings always remained negligible in as far as our expenses were concerned,” Ziyambi said.


Caps face Lesotho Defence Forces in a two-legged first round tie in February. The trip to Maseru will require about $200 million in travel and other expenses, while the return leg in Harare is likely to gobble almost the same amount because they would have to host their opponents.


The situation would become more difficult if Caps progress to the next rounds, where they are likely to meet teams from North and West Africa and have their expenses doubling.