THE Premier Soccer League (PSL) is priming itself for a congested and long season expected to run until Christmas, presenting logistical problems that could condemn local clubs to more continental failure.
By Kevin Mapasure
The 2014 season, yet to begin, is set to feature four knockout cup competitions in addition to the Independence Trophy and the senior national team commitments in the Afcon qualifiers.
The proposed run well into December is partly at the request of broadcast partners SuperSport who want topflight football towards the festive season. This was confirmed by SuperSport representative Max Tshunungwa.
“During the festive season we have so many people (Zimbabweans) coming back home so it would be nice for them to come and watch some of the local matches,” said Tshunugwa. “We requested that we have some matches during this period; it’s a trial run and we will see how it goes.”
SuperSport hosted a networking session with sports journalists in Harare yesterday.
PSL chief executive officer Kenny Ndebele announced that the last match of the domestic season could be played on December 20 and due to the nature of the league’s contract with Mbada Diamonds, that match can only be the Mbada Diamonds Cup final.
A new 16-team tournament is on the calendar but the league has not yet announced sponsorship while the Sup8r tournament is set from May.
“We expect to have a new 16-team tournament after the Super 8 tournament which starts in May,” said Ndebele. “Unfortunately we have not yet reached an agreement with our prospective sponsor for the Charity Shield, but we might have to start the league programme before that one and we will still have it if we reach an agreement.
“We expect the season to run until December 20 because we have also taken into consideration the national team programme, and we will have to dedicate at least five weeks to the Warriors who will be involved in the Afcon qualifiers.”
Ndebele said the league management was aware of the problems that will arise from the proposed programme, but the situation was “unavoidable”.
“We are aware of the problems that will arise especially in terms of registration to African tournaments but there is not much we can do. If we are to avoid playing in December it means we have to play mid-week matches every week, but logistically it’s a challenge and it doesn’t make business sense for clubs. We will have to go with the proposed programme and ask Caf for late registration.
The deadline for African tournaments registration is November 30.
But even if Zimbabwe were to be allowed late registration it would still present challenges for the qualifying clubs who have to go into the market and look for players.
The winners of the Mbada Diamonds Cup win a ticket to the Caf Confederation Cup tournament and get full funding from the miners.