The Herald (Harare)

27 February 2013

Zimbabwe: Ndebele Rallies PSL Clubs

PREMIER Soccer League clubs have been urged to become more innovative and turn themselves into fully-fledged business ventures that can grow the game and protect corporate partnerships. The top clubs will converge in the capital on Saturday for an annual meeting at which the adoption and implementation of the league's ambitious 2013-2016 strategic plan will be central to discussion.

With elections not coming until February next year, the clubs still have one more season in which to focus on the business side of football.

PSL chief executive, Kenny Ndebele, called on the 16 clubs to lead the way in taking the domestic game to another level.

Ndebele said the top clubs needed to realise that the national game was a growing brand, which needed the teams to take a business-like approach to match football's growth.

"We want a league that changes people's lives and there has to be a paradigm shift from the way we have been doing things and our strategic plan has to start being implemented now," Ndebele said.

Ndebele said they could not introduce the ambitious strategic plan without amending the league's constitution and rules and regulations to suit the vision that would take the game to another level in the next three years.

"This meeting should come up with a resolution to change our constitution so that it suits the vision of the strategic plan and the new mission statement.

"The target this year is to reach 60 matches at least to be covered by TV and that comes with a number of changes.

"We are also targeting a change in programmes to have night matches and to also have the fixture programme starting on Friday's instead the traditional Saturday and Sunday afternoon.

"PSL regulations would have to be amended in a number of sections and one of them includes making it mandatory for all coaches to be available for media interviews before and after matches.

"Clubs would also have to provide team lists 24 hours before the game so as not to inconvenience television when the game is live and we have to move away from this old belief that releasing team lists well before the game would result in some players being put in a bottle by some sangoma and failing to perform well," Ndebele said.

Ndebele, who is also a Fifa administrators' instructor, once again warned that hooliganism would not have a place in the new PSL dispensation.

"We need to be much tougher on hooliganism and we are even urging the law enforcement agents to assist us in this regard.

"We cannot have someone causing havoc at matches and then just paying an admission of guilt fine and returning to the stadium following week to cause more problems," Ndebele said.

The PSL chief executive said despite having their strategic plan in place, they had also asked clubs to submit their proposals on the measures they wanted implemented.

But it is the need for local football to take a business approach for which Ndebele is very passionate about.

With the league changing their mission statement, the clubs would also have to plug the loopholes in the way the PSL is run which have often resulted in the secretariat and the executive duplicating roles.

"What we are looking at is the need the need for separation of powers between the executive and the secretariat. We need to allow room for the secretariat to implement programmes and the board to supervise.

"We are also taking a leaf from other countries on issues to do with advertising on the jerseys so that our sponsors here can co-exist.

"We believe that our brand is growing so we have prepared a document that has copied what happens in England, Germany and even at Fifa.

"There should be no clash of the sponsors but a co-existence that shows the growth of the brand".

The PSL chief executive also said there was need for the top-flight body to have regulations that classify the types of sponsors who are involved in the game.

"Our regulations should help us classify who is supposed to be where that is league sponsorship and club sponsorships.

"Going forward clubs should also have technical sponsors. You see one day they are putting on Puma, tomorrow it is Nike and the next day it is Adidas.

"Clubs should also look at the business side of football and even if you participate in a tournament where the kit is sponsored and you have a technical agreement with a kit manufacturer then that kit should match what the club outs on. "You cannot wear Jacko when you have an agreement with Puma or Diadora," Ndebele said.

Ndebele also said match commissioners would from this season assume greater control of the Premiership matches in similar fashion to the way Fifa and Caf games are conducted.

"Our match commissioners have over the years been just match assessors but now they will be more involved in the overseeing of games and will work with the police.

"Unlike members of the secretariat, match commissioners are always at each of the eight venues where games will be played," said Ndebele.

The clubs, most of who are reeling in a tough operating environment, are hoping that the PSL's deal with SuperSport will help bring more revenue into their coffers while they try to entice corporate partners for their franchises.

Individually owned clubs have borne the brunt of the tough operating environment with the majority of them going under the moment they are relegated from the PSL.

A closer look at the relegated teams in the last few seasons shows that it is the individually-owned sides such as Highway, Lengthens, Underhill, Hardbody, Gunners, Kiglon, Quelaton, Douglas Warriors and Blue Rangers that have struggled for financial stability and eventually found themselves demoted despite having some talented players.

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