Editorial Comment: Time PSL put house in order With age-groups ranging from Under-10, 12, 14 and 18, the academy has already showed that they mean business as one of their star players, Alexander Mandinyenya, is already under the wings of newly-promoted Premiership side Simba Bhora.

The Castle Lager Premier Soccer League is expected to get underway sometime this month with the holding of the season opening Castle Challenge Cup.

This match will feature the reigning PSL champions FC Platinum and last season’s Chibuku Super Cup winners, Bulawayo Chiefs.

The idea is that this contest will act as a curtain-raiser and an appetiser, which will set the stage for the league marathon.  

The Premiership teams have taken their pre-season preparations a notch higher with various training camps having been held in places such as Victoria Falls, Bulawayo, Harare, Goromonzi, Gweru and Mutare.

Almost all the teams are making sure they are ready for the challenge, with FC Platinum looking to set a new record by winning a fifth straight league title.

This year, the league welcomes four new entrants in Sheasham, Simba Bhora, Green Fuel and returnees Hwange.

The good thing about the upcoming season is that there have not been negativity surrounding the game itself in the early days, despite the known hiccups at ZIFA level.

Unlike last season when some newly-promoted clubs faced the ignominy of being kicked out before they have played a game after failing to raise affiliation fees, this year all has been smooth-sailing on paper.

What is more encouraging is that there is a semblance of stability with the new kids on the block — Sheasham, Simba Bhora and Green Fuel.

Above everything, football needs sound financial investment.

The people and organisations behind these clubs need to be appreciated for their efforts.

They have invested a lot for these clubs to be at the level they are.

Hwange, as well, have been doing their business quietly and efficiently. But the coal miners are not entirely new to the demands of Premiership football.

What the stakeholders would want to see is these clubs adding value to the PSL and competing seriously.

It does not make sense for the PSL to continue promoting teams that are not thoroughly equipped for top-flight football.

There should be no room for deadwood at that level.

It was sad last season to see Whawha, Bulawayo City and Tenax getting relegated at the end of the same season they got promoted.

Cranborne Bullets, who were among the four promoted teams, just survived by the skin of their teeth.

Premiership football is not a stroll in the park. It is much more demanding financially, physically and is even emotionally draining.

The costs of running the game are on the high side and the competition and intensity of the game demands much more.

Hopefully, the teams that play top-flight football for the first time this year — Simba Bhora, Sheasham and Green Fuel — have done enough research and are prepared accordingly.

Clubs should be able to put in place professional systems, in line with the CAF and FIFA Club Licensing.

The PSL recently conducted a two-day induction and strategic planning review workshop in Bulawayo where all the 18 teams were represented by club administrators.

Hopefully, the meeting achieved the set objectives.

The bottom line being that football should be run professionally. The football leadership shared ideas on transforming the game into a profitable brand that is attractive to the fans and the various stakeholders.

But before the first match kicks off, the league needs to have a checklist to see to it that the recurrent problems that keep damaging the game are dealt with.

They need to answer various questions such as what is the plan to boost attendances this season?

Last year the game had lost its appeal to the generality of the fans.

What is the plan regarding the facilities since most of the stadiums have been condemned? Are the seven Harare clubs still going to be crammed at a single venue again?

Is Rufaro going to be ready for use in time, as promised by Harare Mayor Jacob Mafume?

Or will this turn out to be another blue lie from the excitable opposition politician? What is the state of the proposed venues for this season?

Already, we hear Sakubva has been condemned by the grounds inspection team. Some of the new clubs are working on their home grounds, what progress have they made?

What is the strategy to counter hooliganism and violence at the stadiums? In terms of ticketing and pricing, what is the plan?

What marketing and advertising strategies are in place?

Already the PSL have said they will not reduce gate charges to bring back fans to stadia in spite of poor attendances at matches last season.

Some football stakeholders have suggested that gate charges should be reduced from US$3 to US$1 in order to attract fans.

However, the PSL maintains US$3 for the cheapest ticket is a fair price considering what is obtaining in the region. But, whatever plans the football leadership have up their sleeves, Premiership football should this year strive for improvement.

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