Huge losses for CAPS Utd

Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
CAPS United might have charmed many neutrals with a solid, and at times quality, performance in their victory over Algerian giants USM Alger on Wednesday, but that CAF Champions League adventure came at a huge cost for the Green Machine amid revelations the club suffered huge losses.

The Harare giants do not have a sponsor to bankroll their commitments on the continent, which come at a huge financial cost to the club’s owner Farai Jere, and the joy of their 2-1 victory over the Algerians was yesterday being diluted by the reality of the big losses the club suffered.

“The losses are very huge, we have done the figures, the reconciliation and it’s staggering to tell you the truth,’’ Jere told The Herald.

“The figures just don’t add up and I had a lunch meeting with the ZIFA president Philip Chiyangwa where I told him of the serious predicament that we find ourselves in right now and to also appraise him of the losses that we suffered.

“It was a great game, no doubt about that, we showed our quality that we can play the best teams on the continent and that first half show was one of the best that I have seen CAPS United play in a very long time, the composure on the ball, the passing and everything that you want to see from a football club.

“The character that we showed in the second half, when they equalised, to refuse to settle for a point but take the game to them, even when we knew they were a dangerous side, and to get a superb winner was just out of this world.

“But amid all that joy that it brought, the reality is that we ran huge losses just to host that match and we have been looking at the figures and they are frightening and I even told the ZIFA boss that while our quest is to do well in this competition for our country, there comes a time when we also have to ask ourselves if we can continue to sustain such losses.’’

CAPS United had to pay for the match officials’ air travel, accommodation, food and allowances in Harare and had also to take care of the Algerians’ accommodation costs as part of a deal reached by the clubs in Group B where the host team takes care of the accommodation costs for the visitors.

The Green Machine had expected a bumper crowd, to help them offset some of the costs, but while a sizeable number of fans paid to watch the match, it wasn’t the number they had hoped for.

The club had hoped to have, at least, 15 000 paying fans — just for them to break even — but less than half that number paid to watch the match. Given that the game was played in the afternoon, on a working day, all worked against the Green Machine in attracting neutrals to the stadium.

The only helping hand that CAPS United received was from Impala Holdings chief executive Thompson Dondo who paid for scores of fans to cheer the team as part of a deal that was brokered by the Zimbabwe National Soccer Supporters Association.

The former Kiglon FC chief executive had promised to help CAPS United in the future.

In sharp contrast, while CAPS were left to deal with the bills, their opponents are well funded and have a number of sponsors helping their cause.

The Algerians have been sponsored by Sonelgaz, the state-run company in charge of power and natural gas in that country, since 1977, with the huge firm employing about 20 000 people.

They have also been sponsored by Djezzy, the principal mobile network operator in Algeria with a market share of over 65 percent and more than 17 million subscribers, since 2005.

CAPS United have been waiting for a possible marriage with NetOne which, despite showing signs of being sealed two months ago, remains to be concluded.

USM Alger are kitted by Spanish company Joma, having cut ties with Adidas five years ago, and the club owner Ali Haddad is one of the richest people in Algeria, and on the continent, with a net worth of about $300 million. Jere said although the playing level was titled against them, his men will continue to fight on.

“Obviously, the playing field is not level in terms of the resources that are available to the teams that are in our group but we have the talent, as we showed on Wednesday, and we can go very far in this competition if our boys retain their focus and are not disturbed by off-the-field issues,’’ said Jere.

“We are representing our country with pride and I have been receiving a lot of calls from all over the country from people saying they are proud of what we did on Wednesday, not only by winning, but doing it in style and that is what a nation like ours need.

“We tend to underestimate the value of football, in terms of nation building, and we are happy to play our part to cheer the spirits of our country and the games are coming thick and fast and, hopefully, by the time that we play our next game against the Libyans next week, we will have more people coming to watch us and that can help boost our coffers.

“What we can control, as a team, is just to play our football, quality football, and there is a certain quality of football that people cannot resist and will come and watch and I believe that on Wednesday we gave them that opportunity to see what we can do.

“In our last four matches against teams that have won the Champions League and finished as runners-up in the last two years, we have lost just once, away in Egypt, and that shows our quality and coach Lloyd Chitembwe and his players deserve all the praise they are getting.’’

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