Independentsport: Clubs must change ‘no money’ tune

ZIMBABWE’S African Champions League representatives and Premier Soccer League champions Motor Action this week were not sure whether they would travel to Madagascar for the preliminary round second leg match against that country’s team, Cnaps, until the day of departure.

The Mighty Bulls’ wobbly position was as a result of financial problems that always afflict local clubs whenever they participate in continental tournaments.

A similar scenario is in the pipeline with the country’s other ambassadors in the same competition, Dynamos, who are already flashing the red lights before they even kick the ball.

The clubs say they do not have the money to participate in the financially sapping competitions but still want to take part because it is prestigious to do so. It is the only way our local league can judge itself against other leagues around the continent.

After outstanding performances by Dynamos in this tournament, the local premiership is now ranked as the 12th best league on the continent by the Confederation of African Football. As a result, Zimbabwe has been afforded the opportunity to field four clubs in African competitions, including two other slots in the second tier Caf Confederations Cup.

Due to monetary challenges, Zimbabwe pulled out of the Caf Confederations Cup this year.

Local football authorities need to find a long term solution to this puzzle where teams want to participate in major tournaments, but lack resources. It is not just Dynamos and Motor Action, but even the Warriors have often fallen in the same predicament where they wait until the eve of the day of departure to sort out travel arrangements.

A case in point is the haphazard manner in which the Warriors travelled to Sudan for the African Nations Championships. Zifa were at sixes and sevens to get the funds for the team to leave the country until a last minute rescue package from the government.

Such a scenario does not help the morale of the team, let alone the image of football in the country. This is the reason why sponsors shun the game despite its appeal to millions of people across the country.

There is need for the authorities to take the game seriously and plan for tournaments well in advance to avoid ad-hoc arrangements detrimental to the “beautiful” game.

The Premier Soccer League executive must find a sponsor for the league to alleviate some of the clubs’ financial challenges domestically and internationally.

There were reports this week that the top flight had secured a sponsor for the 2011 season. That is plausible and we wait to see the fruition of this pronouncement.

Apart from getting sponsorship from corporate firms, clubs must develop the habit of marketing their brands and establish business strategies that can sustain them in the absence of sponsorship from the league.

It is unwise for the clubs to rely on Zifa which is also struggling to cater for the Warriors. Clubs must start thinking outside the box and develop long term strategies that don’t hinge on their otherwise incompetent parent bodies.

The lasting solution would entail the clubs pulling out of competitions such as the Champions League until they have enough resources, rather than sing the predictable “we have no money” song.