As the country braces for the 2017 Chibuku Super Cup final showdown at Rufaro tomorrow, it has emerged that the domestic Premiership leadership's insistence on a $25 000 administration fee derailed negotiations which would have seen the introduction of a $350 000 Top Eight knockout football tournament this season.
Harare City, who have perfected the art of doing well in the Chibuku Super Cup, host How Mine in the final of this year's Chibuku Super Cup at Rufaro tomorrow with the winner getting the rights to represent the country in the CAF Confederation Cup next year. The winners of the Chibuku Super Cup will also feature in the $50 000 end-of-season Castle Challenge Cup against the team which will be crowned champions of the domestic Premiership as part of the celebrations for the PSL Silver Jubilee with the winning team getting $30 000 and the losing side receiving $20 000.
The iconic Chibuku Super Cup, which has been a big part of domestic football, is part of Delta Beverages' $5,450 million package for the PSL -- spread over three years of which $3,450 million will go directly into the game's coffers -- which was unveiled in March this year. It's the biggest financial injection ever invested in sport by a company in this country in history. Delta maintained its annual budget of $700 00 for the league championship and $400 000 for the Chibuku Super Cup as they extended their marriage into the next three years.
However, it has since emerged that the top eight clubs in the 2016 Castle Lager Premiership race -- CAPS United, FC Platinum, Highlanders, Chicken Inn, Dynamos, ZPC Kariba, Ngezi Platinum and Bulawayo City -- were denied a chance to feature in a $350 000 Top Eight tournament this year.
Sources have revealed to The Herald that a new sponsor, African Distillers, were ready to pour in $350 000 into the tournament this season and negotiations were at an advanced stage until the PSL leadership started insisting they wanted $25 000 of that financial package to be set aside for administration costs. The sponsors felt uncomfortable with an arrangement in which such a big chunk of their financial package, 7,14 percent of their injection, would go into the coffers of the PSL to be used for the administration costs of just seven matches of the tournament.
They felt that such an arrangement was hostile to the clubs, who badly needed the money and who had the running costs of preparing for the matches and also travelling to fulfil the matches, and was not in line with their investment template into sport. For instance, the sponsors felt that it was unfair that the PSL to get $8 333,33 for the administrative costs of every round of the tournament which is about a third of what the winning team would have got in each round of the tournament from their $80 000 winners' cheque.
The organisers felt this would be a bad arrangement given that the clubs would have to carry the extra costs of preparing their teams for the matches throughout the week, travelling to the matches and taking care of the appearance fees for the players and their coaching staff. While the PSL would get about $8 333.333 per every round for the administration costs, the sponsors felt that the winning team, using a squad of about 30 that include players and coaches, would each be getting only $888 per person from the prize money.
"The negotiations had reached an advanced level and everything was set to be signed and sealed but then the PSL leaders came up with this clause that they needed $25 000 set aside for the costs of the administration of the tournament and everything went off the rails," the sources said.
"That produced a sticking point because the sponsors were not comfortable with paying such a fee, which they felt was big, but the PSL maintained that they always get an administration fee that covers the costs of their personnel to travel to matches etc. The PSL even asked if it was possible for the sponsors to reduce the prize money that had been set aside for the winners, for the runners-up, and the other teams so that a total of $25 000 would end up being found for the administration fee.
"Still, the sponsors were not happy with that and, at the end of the day, the negotiations collapsed and $80 000, which would have gone into the coffers of one of the top eight teams in the league last year, was lost in the process and you also have to consider that the other teams would have also received a substantial figure in earnings even if they had been knocked out in the first round."
The PSL have traditionally received a fee to administer either the knock-out competition or the league championship even though they also receive a levy from the gate receipts from funds generated from all gate receipts for matches under their umbrella. Three years ago, when Delta Beverages renewed their $3.6 million sponsorship package, spread over three years, with $700 000 towards the league championship and $500 000 for the Chibuku Super Cup every year, the league champions got $100 000. The administration costs paid into the PSL coffers were reduced from $200 000 to $150 000.
"Í think, in terms of what happened with the Afdis deal, you should not look at it as $350 000 that was lost this year but, actually, a sponsor who could have come on board and might have ended up being happy with how things turned out and injected more come next year," the sources said. "That is the real cost of the $25 000 which the PSL wanted to have as their administration costs for the tournament."