Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
TWINE PHIRI, who made history by becoming the first man to own one of Zimbabwe’s Three Big football clubs after he acquired the CAPS United franchise in 2002, is disposing his stake in the Green Machine and walking away from the game’s administrative trenches.
The Harare businessman announced yesterday that he was disposing his remaining 20 percent stake in CAPS United Football Club (Pvt) Ltd, the company which owns the Green Machine, and transferring his shareholding to his long-time partner Farai Jere.
The former Premier Soccer League chairman told The Herald he believes the time had come for him to take a break from domestic football, and he will remain just an ordinary fan of CAPS United, a decade after turning the Green Machine into back-to-back league champions.
Phiri said he discussed the issue with Jere, on Monday, and convinced his long-term partner that it was in the best interests of both CAPS United, and his family, that — after about 16 years in the front-line leading the Green Machine — he leaves the club’s ownership structures.
The latest developments cap a dramatic, and trying, few months for the Harare businessman who had his mandate as the PSL chairman revoked by the ZIFA Assembly when the Councillors — who included the 16 Premier Soccer League delegates — revoked the mandate of the entire ZIFA leadership in October last year.
Phiri then learnt that he was unable to contest for the PSL chairmanship, a position he had held since beating the late Eric Rosen in a close poll in 2010, at elections set for next month, because the league’s constitution only allows either the chairmen, or presidents of the top-flight clubs, to battle for the post.
He has been the CAPS United vice-president following the boardroom shake-up, which followed Jere’s elevation to the club’s presidency, after the changes in the shareholding structure.
Jere reduced the stake of his majority shareholding in the club, when another businessman Nhamo Tutisani acquired a 20 percent stake in the company late last year, but that is set to change once again now that Phiri has decided to dispose his stake in the consortium.
Phiri said, after consultations with his family and business partners, he had decided to take a break from football administration and recharge his batteries while watching from a distance as an ordinary fan of his beloved Green Machine and the Warriors.
“It hasn’t been an easy decision to make because, to tell you the truth, football administration had become a very big part of my life since I entered into that agreement with CAPS Holdings way back in 1999 to become a shareholder in CAPS United,” Phiri said.
“It has not been plain sailing all the time but I have also enjoyed the challenges because they have helped shape me into the person that I am today and I have made many friends and critics along the way, but that is the way it will always be when you are in public office.
“Every time, be it at CAPS United, the PSL or ZIFA, I have served with honesty and integrity and I cannot judge myself whether I have been a success, or a failure, I will leave that for the people, especially the fans and my partners, including the sponsors, to decide.
“I had a meeting with my partner, Mr Jere, on Monday where I advised him that I would not be involved in the race for the PSL chairmanship and I also told him I also felt that I should take a break from football administration for now and that is why I have decided to dispose the 20 percent stake that I have in CAPS United so that I free myself from this game completely. “I have worked well with my partner for years and we both had dreams to make CAPS United a successful and professional football club, one that wins league championships, is competitive in the CAF Champions League, provides good players for our national team and is a thriving business that has its own properties, including, in the long-term, its own training ground and stadium.
“I think I am leaving CAPS United in very good hands, and in very good shape, because the massive investment that has been made into the players that we have this season has made everyone associated with the club believe that this could be a very successful year for us and there is a very good working relationship between the shareholders, the board, the technical team and the players.
“We have also invested in the juniors which means that our future should be fine and while I would have loved to stay longer and enjoy the success that is set to come, as part of the club’s leadership, I have to say that I also feel that the time is right for me to take a break from being a football administrator and recharge my batteries.” “I feel that I am not that old and I have given it everything in the past 16 years and, if I take a break, as I am doing now, I can recharge my batteries and come back, in five or 10 years, a better administrator with fresh ideas for our football,” said Phiri.
“I will always value the relationship that I had with my partner, Farai Jere, which was based on honesty and the desire to drive our club to great heights and I will always wish him all the best because, if there is a man who deserve to be rewarded for what he has done for football, then he is that fellow. “I will also always value the excellent relationship that I had with the sponsors, especially Delta Beverages, and here I need to mention their marketing director, Maxen Karombo, who was very instrumental in the deal that enabled us to get a sponsor for our league.
“I also have to thank Mbada Diamonds for everything they did for our football and NetOne, especially their managing director Reward Kangai, for being a true friend of the Premiership. I will always treasure the chance that I was given to be one of the leaders of Zimbabwe football and, God willing, who knows, maybe one day I will come back.”