Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
THE TM Pick n Pay Challenge Cup, the richest one-off football match ever played on Zimbabwean soil and the NetOne OneWallet Cup have combined to push the money that has been injected into the domestic Premiership, in the past four years, past the landmark US$10 million mark.In 2010, when Motor Action were crowned champions of Zimbabwe football, the league was unbranded and the Mighty Bulls, who have since collapsed, did not receive even a cent for their heroics in defying the odds and lifting the premier prize in the game in this country.
Only one sponsor, BancABC, stood in the trenches of a league that no other corporate partners wanted to be associated with and their Sup8r Cup, which was won by Dynamos after a 3-2 victory over bitter rivals CAPS United, was the only silverware that offered prize money.
The Glamour Boys pocketed US$40 000, for their success story, while the Green Machine took home US$15 000.
But given that the Mighty Bulls pocketed nothing, for winning the league championship, the US$15 000 that CAPS United picked for finishing as runners-up in the
BancABC Sup8r Cup, represented substantial earnings for a club in the domestic Premiership back then.
But four years is a long time in football.
In the first Saturday of next month, at the National Sports Stadium, Dynamos and Highlanders will battle in a US$110 000 TM Pick n Pay Challenge Cup, the richest one-off football match ever staged in this country, with the winners picking US$60 000 for 90 minutes of work.
The losing team will also pocket a cool US$50 000. The two giants of Zimbabwe football will, together, be earning US$1 222 for every minute that they will spend on the pitch at the giant stadium on September 6.
The prize money doesn’t include costs, which are substantial in nature, which involve the importation of a top-of-the-line Adidas kit, for both teams, from Germany for the special occasion, cash incentives for the outstanding player on the day and other Match Day-related costs.
Although the PSL board of governors had outlawed challenge matches from being played during the main calendar, the league had to provide a special dispensation, for the TM Pick n Pay Challenge Cup, after it emerged that there was a good chance this could be the start of a good and long-term relationship between the top-flight league and the retail giant.
“We hope this is the start of a long, happy and prosperous association (with) our organisation TM Pick and Pay as they join your growing list of corporate partners,” Onias Mukamba, TM Pick n Pay group finance director and acting chief executive, said in a statement.
“The Premier Soccer League has agreed to assist in any way necessary to ensure that this day and indeed the promotion, is a success.”
With NetOne pumping US$500 000 into their eight-team OneWallet Cup, whose semi-finals will be played at Mandava in Zvishavane on Saturday and Sunday, the financial injection that has been pumped into the domestic Premiership, in the past four years, has now passed the US$10 million mark.
Twine Phiri, the PSL chairman, deserves a lot of credit for the way he has turned his league into a sponsor-friendly organisation, whose magnet continues to woo a number of corporate partners into their fold, after having taken over as leader, in 2010, when the championship was unbranded.
Phiri, who was retained this year with an overwhelming majority to lead the PSL for another four years, has mainly focused on building a league that offers their sponsors a return for value and after getting the backing of corporate giant Delta, who bankrolled the league championship in 2011, he has found it easy to bring others on board.
Although the PSL have had their controversies, such ugly episodes have been few and far between with a lot of focus being thrust on making the Premiership attractive to the sponsors and this convinced SuperSport to also come on board and become their broadcast partners.
The PSL signed a six-year broadcast rights deal with SuperSport International (Pvt) Ltd in 2012 for the matches in the domestic top-flight league to be screened live on SuperSport television channels throughout sub-Saharan Africa and islands on the Indian Ocean.
SuperSport International said there was tremendous potential in Zimbabwe football and they were excited to be part of the journey into a future that looks very bright and they paid an initial USS$400 000, into the Premiership’s coffers, in the first year of the deal that will run until the 2017 football season.
They are also footing the costs related to production, which are separate from the money for the rights they are paying to the league to disburse to the clubs, and in the first year of their operation, last year, their financial outlay was more than US$1 million.
The direct money that has been pumped into the PSL coffers, including the funds which will come from league sponsors Delta, through their Castle Lager brand for the next two years, has now passed the landmark US$10 million mark.
“Delta is simply playing its part in promoting the sustainable growth of sport in the country. The new PSL sponsorship package covers a period of three years — that is the 2014, 2015 and 2016 seasons,” Delta marketing director, Maxen Karombo, said at the unveiling of their new three-year deal with the league this year.
“There will be evaluations conducted by Delta Beverages and the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League at the end of each season to ensure that we both meet our stated objectives.
“Part of the sponsorship covers the PSL’s administrative costs. However, the promotion of administrative costs has been reduced from over US$200 000 to US$150 000 in order to direct more money towards the clubs. We are also in the final stages of planning a coaching clinic to be conducted by coaches from (Spanish football champions) FC Barcelona during the course of the season this year.
“Delta Beverages’ level of investment has gone up from US$600 000 to US$1,2 million per season, therefore, doubling the investment. Although our agreement is subject to review every year, Delta Beverages will invest a total of US$3,6 million in direct cash investment in the Premier Soccer League for the next three years.
“We hope that this level of commitment to our beautiful game will bring a lot of excitement in the league and will yield resounding success, one that makes all of us proud stakeholders.
“We would also like to acknowledge the PSL who have worked hard to build a strong and healthy working relationship with Delta Beverages.”
By the end of their current deal in 2016, Delta Beverages would have poured more than US$5,4 million into the PSL coffers since 2010 while Mbada Diamonds, who have been bankrolling the flagship Mbada Diamonds Cup since 2011, have also poured more than US$4 million into their tourney.
Organisers of the Bob Super Cup have also pumped in a significant amount, in the four years that the tournament has been running, with more than US$500 000 sunk into the tourney while BancABC, through their Sup8r Cup, and NetOne, have all played big parts in supporting the PSL.
Maybe, it’s a sign that the good times are well and truly back in the Premiership when the iconic Chibuku Super Cup makes a comeback, after having disappeared from the radar for about a quarter-of-a-century.