The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Jere Quits Caps Utd

FARAI Jere, the heart and soul that powered the CAPS United administrative machinery in the past seven years, has quit the Green Machine to concentrate on his growing business ventures. The Harare businessman announced yesterday, in a meeting with his fellow CAPS United director Twine Phiri, that he was pulling out of the club, where he is a shareholder, and relinquishing his role as team vice-president.

Although neither Jere nor Phiri could be reached for comment last night, sources told The Herald that the two directors met and discussed their project, at a meeting, in the capital yesterday.

Both directors were in Bulawayo at the weekend and were witnesses as the Green Machine misfired terribly, in a 0-3 mauling at the hands of bitter rivals Dynamos, in a Mbada Diamonds Cup semi-final at Barbourfields on Sunday.

That depressing defeat brought home the confirmation that CAPS United will end yet another season empty-handed as their league championship campaign never got going, from the word go, after a false start under Northern Irishman Sean Connor.

CAPS United were even sucked into a relegation battle but a decent run pushed them to safety.

Apparently, Jere had made his mind, according to the sources, to leave at the end of this season but decided to delay making the announcement for fear that it could have a negative effect on the team's campaign to try and win the Mbada Diamonds Cup.

Jere made the decision to leave the Green Machine, said the sources, once CAPS United secured their Premiership place for yet another season.

"Those who are very close to what goes on at CAPS United will tell you that it was known that Mr Jere had made up his mind that he would be leaving the club once our team guaranteed its place in the PSL for another year," said the sources.

"It was, however, kept a closely-guarded secret because there were fears that if it spilled to the players and their coaches, it could affect their focus in their attempts to try and win the Mbada Cup, and there was a feeling we had a very good chance in this tournament.

"Mr Jere wanted to go away in a scenario where everyone at the club was happy, the players, the supporters and the officials, and maybe that is why he put so much in trying to make sure that the team wins the Mbada Cup.

"It became something like an obsession for him to make sure CAPS United win this big Cup and, when everyone would be celebrating, he would break the news that he believed the time was now right for other people to be given a chance to lead the club.

"It didn't happen that way, which is very sad, and after that big defeat in Bulawayo, if he had any doubts that this was the time to move, all those questions were answered at Barbourfields because, seriously, what more can a man do to try and inspire his team?

"So, the directors met yesterday and, obviously, Mr Phiri doesn't believe that is the right move to take and has been asking his partner for one last year together and see what comes out of it but Mr Jere was adamant that he has to go."

The same sources said the two directors were set for another meeting today where Phiri will bring in some of the club's most influential members to try and persuade his fellow director not to dump the Green Machine project.

Jere initially held a 20 percent stake in CAPS United (Pvt) Ltd, the private company that owns the football club, and his shareholding in the club was meant to be boosted to around 45 percent earlier this year.

But there have been some boardroom delays, which have frustrated the completion of the negotiations, and Jere remains stranded at 20 percent, in the ownership structure of the club.

Jere has poured in more than US$1 million, into the Green Machine project that was very close to his heart, within the past four years, bankrolling the club's operational costs and bringing in a host of players to try and find the Midas touch to return CAPS united to the top.

He also helped CAPS United secure a club house, which they use as their offices, in the capital.

A passionate CAPS United fan, who always argued that his team should be judged on their ability to win league championships and not knockout competitions, Jere has been in the club's administrative ranks since arriving as a team manager when the Green Machine successfully defended its league championship in 2006.

Prior to that he had, while being just a mere supporter, bought a car for one of the leading CAPS United players, as an incentive, as the Green Machine chased their first league title, in six years, during the 2004 season.

Having arrived in the club's power corridors at a time when CAPS United were scaling the heights of success, Jere has found it frustrating that they have repeatedly failed, in the past six years, to get closer to winning the league championship.

That has brought with it internal squabbles and Jere was repeatedly targeted by a militant section of the Green Machine fans, some of whom accused him of being a DeMbare spy, when the going got tough.

To his credit, he remained focused, and when the two directors began putting up a public show of unity, especially after the club plunged to a 0-3 defeat in the league to Dynamos and a number of key senior players were off-loaded in the process, some of his fierce critics among the fans began to buy his vision as results improved on the pitch.

"Mr Jere was haunted, for some time now, by this thing that they were letting down the fans, who only want to see their team winning and lifting trophies, and the more that it went on, the more that it hurt him," said the sources.

"When you feel that you have given it your best shot, you have done everything that you can and you have poured in quite a lot of money, and things simply can't work out, you begin to ask yourself some serious questions.

"He is a passionate man, the way he does his business is the way he also managed his football club and he couldn't understand why things were working out on the business front and not working out on the football front.

"He feels CAPS United could possibly benefit from having some new brooms coming to sweep their house but that is debatable because it costs a lot of money to run a team like this one and, given that he was doing all the funding, it will be interesting to see how things work out from here.

"There is also the issue of the special strong bond that he has created with the players, all of whom he brought to CAPS United and some of whom acknowledge that they have let him down.

"You also have to consider the technical team members, too, because only last week he gave Tau (Mangwiro) US$6 000 to appeal his ban, and also paid the legal fees demanded by the lawyer, even though the coach's contract effectively ends this weekend and there was no guarantee he would still be at CAPS."

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