29 May 2013

Zimbabwe: Adidas Deal Sealed

IT might have taken an eternity but today Zimbabwe football giants, Dynamos and highlanders, will take giant steps into a new professional era when they seal their official kit sponsorship deals with iconic global sporting brand Adidas.

The two giants will get a supply of playing kits and training kits and, for the first time in more than 10 years, they can also have genuine club replicas that will be sold to their fans.

The deal has been facilitated by the two clubs' parent sponsor, BancABC, whose arrival on the giants' doorsteps has helped bring tranquillity in both camps and it's not a coincidence that Dynamos and

Highlanders have been the best performing clubs in the past two seasons.

The two giants finished the season tied on points last year, with DeMbare winning the championship on goal difference, while Bosso now lead the championship race, with three games before the marathon reaches the halfway mark, while the Glamour Boys are second.

Finer details of the kit sponsorship deal will be unveiled at today's function which is a landmark development in the history of Zimbabwean football.

DeMbare last tied a kit sponsorship deal, with an international firm, at the turn of the millennium when they went to bed with Italian firm L-Sporto, who created one of the best kits ever used by the Glamour Boys.

However, the marriage was fraught with challenges and it collapsed.

L-Sporto then signed a seven-year deal with the Warriors' Trust, in November 2003, worth US$4,3 million and they supplied the kit which the senior national football team used at their maiden appearance at the Nations Cup finals in Tunisia the following year.

That deal, just like the DeMbare marriage, also did not last.

But this one looks different, having been underwritten by a reputable bank, and reports last night indicated that the equipment is already in the country and will be unveiled at the function today.

The Dynamos and Highlanders' officials yesterday met representatives from Adidas to tie up the loose ends ahead of today's launch.

The parties involved yesterday declined to comment and said a full statement on the deal will be made this afternoon.

DeMbare and Bosso already use the branded Adidas kits with the BancABC logo on the front part of their jerseys but most importantly, for both teams, the deal, which will allow them to have control of the sale of the replicas, could usher in a new era as it will directly impact on their coffers.

"We cannot say much on the issue today (yesterday) because we might end up pre-empting everything. As you know there have been negotiations with Adidas over kit deals and I am glad to say tomorrow we will be formalising the relationship.

"All the details that you may need to know will be revealed at the function and there is also going be a press release," said one of the officials. Both Highlanders and Dynamos have been waiting for such a moment as the clubs lose potential revenue running into thousands every year in sales of replicas as supporters often get cheap material from unlicensed dealers.

The replicas are expected to be on the market any time soon.

The deal could not have come at a better time especially for Dynamos who celebrate their Golden Jubilee this year.

Bosso will turn 90 in three years time.

DeMbare will face Premiership returnees Black Rhinos in their next assignment this Sunday while Highlanders travel to Hwange on the same day before league action takes a break for two weeks to pave way for the national team commitments.

The Warriors are set to host Egypt at the National Sports Stadium on June 9, and then travel to West Africa for a date against Guinea the following week.

Last year, Dynamos and Highlanders took giant steps towards sealing the money-spinning deals for the importation and sale of replica jerseys when the Premiership giants met with representatives of international kit manufacturer Adidas in separate meetings in the country.

The meetings came amid revelations that BancABC were very keen to help the two clubs open sports shops that would sell the club's exclusive merchandise.

BancABC have committed themselves to bring a professional touch to the way both DeMbare and Bosso are run and it emerged the bank was exploring ways of partnering some selected retail outlets to sell the branded Dynamos and Highlanders replicas until each club has managed to open its own sports shop.

Adidas senior sports marketing manager, Adrian De Souza, who led his company's delegation to the country, broke the news to The Herald in June last year.

"We have been in Harare for the last couple of days for exploratory discussions with Dynamos and Highlanders but we cannot say much about the discussions," he said.

"I cannot comment much about the replicas too save to say we had good meetings with both clubs."

BancABC also said, then, that it was still premature to comment on the deals.

Despite having a big brand Dynamos have not tapped into their full commercial value and if they can get a kit sponsorship deal, which will leave the club with a substantial return after the sale of replicas, it could provide a financial windfall and be a move in the right direction.

The Harare giants have been powerless, because of their poor financial base, to stop their best players from moving to South African clubs, including the modest ones like University of Pretoria, who signed goalkeeper Washington Arubi.

In South Africa, Adidas have been the long-term kit sponsors of Orlando Pirates.

The German firm is also a long-standing kit supplier to European champions Bayern Munich and owns a stake of around nine percent in the Bavarian club.

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