PSL boss: I’m no failure

THE Premier Soccer League (PSL) executive committee came under stern criticism over several administration matters in 2009. As the season ends this weekend, our Senior Sports Reporter ENOCK MUCHINJO speaks to the PSL chairman Tapiwa Matangaidze about these issues. Here are excerpts of the interview:

Muchinjo: What is your assessment of the 2009 PSL season on the field and administrative-wise?

Matangaidze: The season started on a tough note because of the world depression, and the change of currency in Zimbabwe was always going to impact negatively on the country and football in general. We had to be resourceful. What we did was to increase our efforts. From the biggest team to the smallest, they were funded by reserves from PSL. I’m happy to say that as we come to the end of the season, we leave the league on a sound footing. I think we achieved 80% of our goals.

Muchinjo: How do you respond to the controversy surrounding Monomotapa’s trip to Malaysia, which PSL did not sanction according to your critics, among other admin blunders?

Matangaidze: That’s a Zifa issue. We do not talk on behalf of other organisations. We have nothing to do with external associations. But as PSL we have already acted by deducting three points from them (Monomotapa). Even the TP Mazembe issue, we didn’t even know they were here when they came to play friendlies.

Muchinjo: Your critics point out CBZ’s pullout from sponsoring the league and the delay in unveiling a new sponsor as failure by your management committee. What’s your response?

Matangaidze: CBZ never pulled out. We signed a contract that ends this year. But at the beginning of this season they said they cannot commit to a number. They never pulled out. Number one will get $30 000. All in all the budget is $200 000. CBZ is the sponsor of the league. Even after the break following the Cosafa tournament, we gave each club a disbursement of $2 000 when they said they didn’t have money to finish the season.

Muchinjo: Your former secretary-general Kenny Ndebele resigned in a huff claiming he was sidelined from crucial decisions. He also said the clubs almost passed a vote-of-no-confidence…

Matangaidze: I’m the darling of the clubs as we speak! Phone me and tell me which clubs do not like the chairman! The issue is that clubs want a restructuring of the PSL. They want a board of governors. As the league secretary-general, Kenny was asked to convene a meeting. Instead of convening a meeting he started to lecture the clubs that the board is bad. You don’t refuse to call for a meeting. You call for the meeting and explain to the clubs if you have a problem. I also run a club and I know how it’s like to fork out money week-in-week-out. The board has its weaknesses, but officials have to do what they were mandated to do. You have to support the clubs.
The only issue I know that angered Kenny is that he didn’t want Underhill  to play at Dulibadzimu Stadium. But the PSL grounds inspection committee had said the ground was fit to be used. Kenny had no right to go and inspect the ground. So he wanted us to stop Underhill from playing there. If we had done that we would have introduced anarchy to football.
He says he was sidelined. The only time he was not consulted was when we went sourcing for sponsorship. For the purpose of confidentiality it was only the chairman who could meet prospective sponsors.

Muchinjo: It appears you won’t seek re-election at PSL. What do you regard your achievements and failures to be?

Matangaidze: Let me take you back to pre-2006. Football was characterised by bickering and fighting between Zifa and PSL. In 2006 there was no sponsor at all, no vision, nothing. We really wanted to change the culture of doing things. Before 2006 it was cowboy tactics. Now it’s no longer about everybody on each other’s throat and cowboy tactics.
I promised to re-brand the PSL. I managed to re-engage the corporate world in spite of the economic challenges.
In any league, you have four major trophies; the Charity Shield, the Top eight, the Top 16 and the championship. I failed in one — we did not have the Top 16. We delivered the Charity Shield, the Top eight and the league. Now that is 75%, which is first-class by any standards.
Never in the history of football in Zimbabwe had you ever had accounts being audited and published in the papers. Before we came in, the PSL was operating on a deficit. We posted a surplus.
AGMs and EGMs were done without fail. The whole reason why under tough conditions the corporate world partnered us speaks volume of what we’ve achieved. Give me any controversial issue about PSL in our tenure?

Muchinjo: There has been debate about the standards of Zimbabwean football. What do you make of the standards — particularly in 2009 — in the context of the PSL?

Matangaidze: As clubs we set ourselves standards to be one of the best leagues in Africa by 2010. We have achieved that in 2009, a year earlier, by getting two slots in the African Champions League. Look at the winning Cosafa team, it comprised entirely of PSL players. It shows you that the level is of a high standard.

Muchinjo: Tell us about your ambitions after PSL. We hear you aspire to challenge for the presidency of Zifa next year?

Matangaidze: I’m not talking about that now. I’m still focused on running the PSL.

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