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Zimbabwean football struggling to survive tough economy

Financial crisis ... Caps United players with coach Mark Harrison (in red shirt)

10/04/2015 00:00:00
by Espnfc.com
His club threatened with collapse ... Caps United boss Twine Phiri
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Zimbabwe football’s ugly collapse

IF A business collapses in an already sunken economy, did it really go bust?

That's what Zimbabweans have been asking themselves for the past 15 years as their economy has steadily shrunk. They still don't know the answer because even as industries close around them, others crop up and close too.

The latest casualty could be CAPS United, the football club that dominated almost 30 years ago and led the way in development with the first club-affiliated academy in the country.

The Harare-based club is facing liquidation after two former directors, Lewis Uriri and Nhamo Tutisani, sought High Court intervention for unpaid debt.

The duo claim the club owes them a combined $143,000 and are demanding to be paid in three weeks or for the club to be declared insolvent and the franchise sold to settle the bill.

Although CAPS tried to reassure supporters that they are not about to fold, Uriri and Tutisani are not the only people CAPS owe.

They have already acknowledged a much larger debt, of $1.4 million to a former shareholder Farai Jere, who serves as a non-executive member of the board, and it seems they may also owe their players money.

Eight days ago, the team refused to take to the field in a game against How Mine FC to protest non-payment of salaries and bonuses. The opposition were given a 3-0 walkover win.

CAPS have since returned to action and played to a 1-1 draw against Dynamos FC, who have recently faced financial issues of their own.

Last month, the Dynamos team bus narrowly escaped being attached as part of a debt owed to a local bank. The vehicle is reportedly the only asset owned by the club.

And it's not just the clubs that are in trouble. Zimbabwe's national body, ZIFA, is also paying the price for defaulting on debt.

National association in trouble ... ZIfa bosses Cuthbert Dube and Jonathan Mashingaidze

Zimbabwe have been expelled from 2018 World Cup qualifying because of their failure to pay former coach Jose Claudinei Georgini, better known as Valinhos, who was in charge between January and November 2008.


ZIFA have been denied assistance from FIFA but have help from the organisation that may be able to rescue the clubs too.

The Premier Soccer League (PSL) releaded US$65,000 to ZIFA to assist in paying Valinhos and have promised the national body support.

The league may find it has to extend that support elsewhere, too, but the good news is that it may have the means.

The PSL is one of the few businesses in Zimbabwe actually making money. It has the advantage of major sponsorships, which are difficult to get in the country's unstable economic climate, and a major television rights deal.

For the second successive season, South African-based broadcaster SuperSport will screen Zimbabwean league matches and they have already upped their offer from the first deal.

A week before the PSL kicked off, Zimbabwean media reported that the network would screen more than the 53 matches it broadcast last season, although it was not revealed how many matches would ultimately be aired.

SuperSport's marketing manager explained the value in the Zimbabwean league because it is "highly competitive," and committed the network to broadcasting games from clubs regarded as the smaller sides on air as well as those played by the big boys: Dynamos, Highlanders and CAPS United.

Without that trio, the PSL would lose a significant amount of the attention it gets. But to keep them, the PSL may have to help them stay in business.

CAPS are the outfit in the most need at the moment. Dynamos could come knocking too and if no one answers, Zimbabweans may have the answer to whether businesses can still go bust in a troubled economy.

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