THE contentious top-flight relegation saga has resurfaced with a strong proposal to reduce the number of teams that are demoted from the Premier Soccer League being made at the international football symposium which ended in Victoria Falls yesterday.
Currently, four teams are chopped from the league at the end of each season.
lnternational speakers who presented at the indaba expressed concern at the high turnover.
After months of waiting, the inaugural PSL international football symposium exploded into life in the resort town on Thursday amid huge expectations that the expo would finally transform the domestic game into a big industry.
Fifteen of the 18 PSL teams were represented, with financially crippled Mushowani Stars, Triangle and basement outfit Yadah failing to send delegates.
Ambitious Division One clubs ZPC Hwange and Talen Vision who are within reach of booking tickets in the 2020 PSL season attended the symposium.
Zifa president Felton Kamambo, who was part of the cast of officials here, revealed that the relegation issue will be discussed at the mother body’s next annual meeting in February 2020.
“That proposal is welcome but as usual, it has to decided by the assembly.
“Relegating four teams in a league of 18 teams is too much, we are losing experience every year.
“Initially we had 16 teams, now we have 18. We also don’t have a national league for Division One.
“We are busy looking for sponsorship so that we can have a national league, that will solve the demotion and promotion issue,” said Kamambo.
PSL chairman Farai Jere described the symposium as a success story.
“The symposium lived to its expectations, our expectations were to have these clubs here so that they learn how things are done out there.
“We learnt a lot on issues of corporate governance, the legal aspect of the game and how football can be turned into a big industry.
“On the issue of relegated teams, the presenters were actually shocked, Zimbabwe is probably the only country in the world where four teams are relegated from the top-flight.
“If you look at the South African ABSA Premiership, they demote one, the second bottom placed team goes for the play-offs.
“I was happy with the representation we had. We got support from the Sport and Recreation Commission who sent their director-general,” Jere said.
For years, Zimbabwe’s football has been long on business potential but terribly short on delivery, with the elite league now paying a measly $100 000 to the winner of the championship.
The country’s flagship sport has also been grappling with compliance issues on fundamentals such as club licensing, with some of their efforts being weighed down by a tough economic environment which has left them operating on shoe-string budgets.
World League Forum general secretary Jerome Perlemuter headlined the cast of experts who descended on Victoria Falls for the indaba.
He presented a paper on sports corporate governance and development.
“For Zimbabwe, the potential is on the pitch. You have good players, those players like Marvelous Nakamba are proof that you can do it. “Talent is key to developing a good competition, but you need to have proper structures in football to be able to develop.
“The potential is there, the willingness is there, you could hear from the engagements,” said the French lawyer, who was appointed as the general secretary of the WLF in April 2017.
The WLF Forum represents professional football leagues worldwide and fosters cooperation between them. It notably focuses on improving the regulatory framework of professional football and its development around the world.
The PSL are a member.
The La Liga Global Network delegate in South Africa, Enrique Suay, spoke on how football can realise its full commercial value. He used the Spanish league as a case study.
Other high-profile speakers who attended included Cape Town-based Cameron Calder, managing director at Hype Sports, who talked about driving fan engagement through digital technology.
Marc Juillerat, chief legal officer of the Swiss Football league, enlightened local administrators on club licensing benefits and the future of football.
World soccer governing body Fifa endorsed the symposium by seconding their safety and security manager Lee Davidson, who presented a paper on managing safety and security at match venues.
“Africa is high up there in terms of stadium disasters because of the infrastructure, and the manner in which fans enter the stadium,” Davidson told The Sunday Mail Sport on the sidelines of the symposium.
Zimbabwe experienced a tragic event on March 24 when a woman lost her life owing to a stampede as fans jostled to get into the National Sports Stadium for the Warriors’ final 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Congo Brazzaville.
Premier Soccer League chief executive officer Kennedy Ndebele urged clubs to implement what was discussed in Victoria Falls.
“I am very happy that the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation was represented here. They are currently working on a strategic plan. The symposium was an eye opener.
“The topics were created in a manner that covered a lot of aspects.”
Sports Commission director-general Prince Mupazviriho challenged the clubs to unlock their business potential.
“Obviously the problem could be our reluctance to implement what has been learnt here.
“We should be proactive leaders who are willing to turn things around. Sport is business and it has to be run as such.
“The club leaders should always bear this in mind and work hard for this,’’ Mupazviriho said. Delta Beverages channel marketing executive Irimayi Muzorewa said the league’s sponsors were bowled over by the “highly engaging” symposium.
“At the end of the day, we need to make sure that we play a role in the development of football,” said Muzorewa.