26 February 2013

Zimbabwe: PSL to Usher in Night Matches

DOMESTIC football is set to usher in an era of more night matches as the Castle Lager Premiership prepares to take its deal with pay television channel SuperSport to another level in the 2013 season.

After a trial run culminated in a few matches being beamed live on SuperSport, the PSL are now looking at having at least 60 of their games securing live coverage to a global television audience. The local clubs are expected to get finer details about the proposed changes in the fixture programmes when they converge in Harare for the PSL annual meeting on Saturday.

Local football had abandoned night matches largely due to the high costs of electricity, irregular power availability and complaints by most clubs that there were low spectator levels at such encounters compared to afternoon games. The majority of local clubs still rely heavily on gate revenue, something that the domestic game also ought to move away from in the new era.

PSL chief executive Kenny Ndebele yesterday said the watershed meeting would see debate being centred on amendments to the top-flight body's constitution to pave the way for the implementation of their 2013-2016 strategic plan. Saturday's indaba is also crucial in that it is the last annual meeting of the league before next year's elective assembly of the top clubs, which could usher in new faces on the PSL board.

PSL chairman Twine Phiri and his board will face an election in February next year when their initial four-year term expires and this will be a defining season for them.

Crucially for the domestic game, Ndebele also said, was the need for the domestic game to embrace the changes sweeping across global football and shake off some of the characteristics that have left the PSL largely amateurish in outlook.

Ndebele said it was imperative that the local clubs acknowledged the fact that football worldwide, including in Zimbabwe, had grown into more than just game and had become big a big industry. It is also against this background that the PSL have changed their mission statement and will expect the clubs to endorse their new pay-off line.

"It is a watershed meeting in that we are launching our 2013-2016 strategic plan aimed at turning around the league.

"In line with the strategic plan, we have changed our pay-off line from the 'Pride of local soccer' to 'More than just a game'."

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