A YEAR after the Premier Soccer League was split into two distinct camps with their differences triggered by the decision of ad hoc leaders to splash an initial $17 000 to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the ghost of that spectacular and damaging fallout appears to have returned to their boardrooms.
And it could shape the destiny of the battle for the leadership of the country’s top-flight football league expected to be between CAPS United president Farai Jere and Triangle United chairman Lovemore Matikinyidze.
The ZIFA Electoral Committee is expected to reveal tomorrow that the duo will battle for the right to lead the PSL with the winner of the race getting a four-year mandate to become the boss of the country’s top-flight league which has struggled to provide real value to its membership.
The PSL is seeking a fresh start after years in which it has been trapped in a quagmire, crippled by falling attendance figures, a significant chunk of its membership struggling to just survive amid rising costs and dwindling incomes and rebellion within its ranks over the way its leadership has adopted a hardline approach to managing the league.
In June this year, two club bosses — Walter Magaya of Yadah Stars and Nicholas Gora of Nichrut — raised the red flag over what they alleged to be ill-treatment from the league’s management with the former revealing he was withdrawing his funding of the club while the latter was unhappy with the hefty fine which had been imposed on his team.
“Ndaneta, this PSL inorwadza, I am telling you,” Magaya said after appeals to have his club’s match postponed, when he lost a third player to national team commitments, were turned down by the PSL management.
“They make money out of us every season and when you ask them to be considerate to your plight they make some funny decisions which impact negatively on the development of clubs and football.
“What type of governing is that? What type of organisation is that? I don’t get any money from sponsoring the team, instead I spend a lot of money, but it feels like there are some people in leadership positions who don’t want to see people like us in the game.
“Last year, they said we were celebrating 25 years of the PSL, but did you see any billboard in any town celebrating the players and coaches who helped make the league what it is, of course, there was nothing and you say we are progressing as a league.
“There is zero benefit in sponsoring local football and all that we have seen are people who used to be rich and powerful going down because of their passion for the game.”
Gora raised the red flag over a $4 000 fine imposed on his club for the disturbances that rocked their league match against CAPS United at Ascot.
But it is the ghost of the spectacular fallout, which split the Premier Soccer League into two distinct camps two years ago, over the CAS case that could prove decisive in the battle for the PSL chairmanship.
Matikinyidze, supported by his ally Chicken Inn chairman Lifa Ncube, defiantly pushed for the PSL dispute with ZIFA over relegation and promotion to be taken to CAS in Switzerland with the league supposed to pay an initial $17 000 for their case to be heard.
The duo authorised the payment of the money to Credit Suisse, a Swiss bank based in Lausanne, Switzerland.
“As you are aware, our dispute with ZIFA is now pending before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland.
“We write to advise that CAS have requested that each party pays an amount of $17 000 being costs for the arbitration proceedings,” a letter from the PSL to clubs read.
“We attach hereto the letter from CAS for your information. We are, therefore, seeking your approval to pay the amount required by CAS. This amount must be paid by the 12th of January, 2017.
“Find attached, hereto, a consent form for your signature if you are agreeable to the PSL paying the amount as directed by CAS.”
Jere opposed the move, arguing it was just a waste of resources which the league didn’t have and the money should be invested in projects that help the membership of the top-flight league instead, including even helping the teams that were representing the league and country, in the CAF Champions League and Confederation Cup.
Two months later, in January last year, the bid by the rebellious group at the PSL to take their fight to CAS was crushed by the top-flight clubs, led by heavyweights Dynamos, Highlanders, CAPS United and FC Platinum, who forced their ad hoc leaders to withdraw the case from CAS.
The PSL clubs, through their lawyers Coghlan, Welsh and Guest, officially advised CAS they were withdrawing their case.
“We, the undersigned Governors of the PSL: (a) lawfully congregated in Congress in accordance with the PSL statutes, and
(b) by lawful authority representing the following PSL members — Border Strikers, Bulawayo City, CAPS United, Chapungu, Dynamos, FC Platinum, Harare City, Highlanders, How Mine, Hwange, Mutare City, Ngezi Platinum Stars, Triangle, Tsholotsho and ZPC Kariba
“That, pursuant to our resolution of the 19th November, 2016, we shall all and each proceed post-haste to formally withdraw the case CAS 2016 /0 /4873 PSL and All versus Zimbabwe Football Association from the Court of Arbitration for Sport.”
This was a slap in the face of the rebels amid concern among the clubs that the three-man emergency committee running the league, of which Matikinyidze and Ncube were members, had turned dictatorial rather than get direction, in such cases, from the league’s membership.
Matikinyidze had also extended PSL chief executive Kenny Ndebele’s contract without the case being debated by the entire membership of the PSL.