Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
FARAI JERE hasn’t unleashed a tsunami, but he says his quiet green revolution – built on the values of elimination of chaos, bringing in more sponsors and transforming the top-flight league into a vibrant entity – is well and truly underway in the domestic Premiership.
Some expected the Harare businessman to make sweeping changes, including axing chief executive Kenny Ndebele and some of his staff, after he rode on a wave of support from the big clubs to win a close battle to become the substantive PSL chairman.
But the CAPS United boss instead chose diplomacy and continuity and has been reaching out to those who didn’t back him while also eliminating the acrimony that strained relations between the top-flight league and ZIFA.
He has also been quietly meeting with a raft of sponsors to try and unlock the true value of the league and has been leading a crusade which will see the domestic top-flight calendar shift from the traditional March-November into one whose programme starts in August and ends in May.
Today marks exactly two months since the majority of the PSL clubs invested their confidence in Jere to lead them for the next four years and yesterday he spoke about unleashing a green rainbow of light, rather than a tsunami of darkness, in his first 60 days in office.
He also spoke about:
The urgent need for the league’s Big Three – Dynamos, Highlanders and CAPS United – to find their competitive edge again to boost spectator interest in the top-flight, saying Bosso’s resurgence in the first half of the championship race showed the impact this can have on bringing fans back to the stadiums.
The need to improve the brand visibility of those who have been walking with them, like their principal partners Delta Beverages, through initiatives that will see the sponsors gaining the mileage that their investment deserves.
Direct support of clubs that would be representing the league and country in CAF inter-club competitions to help them succeed and, in the process, boost the profile of both the league and the name of the country.
Coming up with measures that will ensure the league rewards and retains some of its decent talent rather than become one that continues to offload any bright spark that comes along to other foreign leagues as this has contributed to a drop in spectator interest.
Transforming the domestic football landscape from one dominated by the friction and chaos bred by boardroom wrangles, which have pushed away some potential partners, into an oasis of tranquillity which would be a magnet to sponsors to come on board.
Acquisition of land where the league will build its headquarters giving it a face that can appeal to potential investors and also providing it with the muscle it requires to use as security if need arises to borrow funding from financial institutions to finance its programmes.
“Some people might suggest that we haven’t done anything yet but l am someone we prefers to do the acting rather than the talking and those that l have been working with in the past two months will tell you that we have moved mountains,” Jere said.“We have chosen not to go about our business broadcasting everything that we have been doing because we want to get things moving on the ground and we have covered a lot in these first two months.
“The co-operation and unity among the Governors has gone a notch higher and we are now united for the cause of our league and we marching in the same direction because the first mission was to reach out to each other to heal the divisions brought by the elections.
“We have done that and l have been impressed with the way our chief executive and his team have provided us with support and l can tell you that these are guys who have a serious commitment to see the league succeed and we are going to provide them with the right leadership.
“We have already reached out to ZIFA so that we bring our two constitutions in line with each other to avoid the unnecessary friction which has dominated our relationship in the past because our quest is to succeed rather than to fight.
“We have also engaged a number of sponsors to try and bring them on board because the league needs their backing for it to thrive and be competitive and l can tell you that negotiations are going well and there is a rainbow of hope.”
While congratulating FC Platinum for reaping rewards for their professionalism by winning a second straight league championship, Jere said it was important that the traditional Big Boys also raise their game from next season.
“FC Platinum were excellent and Ngezi Platinum also deserve special mention because these two clubs showed everyone the value that can be driven from professionalism,” said Jere.
“It’s a wake-up call to the traditional giants that things have changed and they have to do more to win silverware and that’s why l am saying we need to see a competitive Dynamos, a competitive CAPS United and a competitive Highlanders to make things exciting.
“We can’t be blind to the fact that when these Big Three are firing on all cylinders and battling on all fronts interest in the league is boosted and more fans come to our stadiums because Bosso showed that in the first half of the race with big attendance figures at their matches.
“The other day l was reading comments from the English Premiership chief executive Richard Scudamore when he said that Manchester United’s challenges since Sir Alex Ferguson retired have affected the appeal of his league and l couldn’t agree with him more even though l am an Arsenal fan.
“Sadly, that’s the way it is and that’s the reality that when Manchester United are doing well the English Premiership is in good health and that is also true in South Africa with Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates.”
Jere said negotiations with the Harare City Council for acquisition of land where the league could build its new headquarters were on-going and encouraging.
“We have come in with a clear mandate and that is to develop the league and not to score marks as rebels who only thrive in chaos and we are not going back in that direction,” he said.
“Our vision is premised on respect for ZIFA and a relentless quest to improve the welfare of our membership while also boosting the value of our league and its partners and we believe we are in the right path.
“Those who are used to seeing chaos as a way of life will be disappointed with our approach but that’s the path we have chosen and after four years we will parade its fruits.”