By Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE’S top-flight professional football competition, the Premier Soccer League (PSL) is set to align with the European season after the local football mother body ZIFA announced that the upcoming season is set to kick-off in August.
The 2020 PSL season was set to kick-off last month before the scheduled start was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
With the country still under lockdown since the end of March, it appears local football stakeholders see the current situation as an opportunity to align the domestic football season with those of other top leagues by switching with the August to May European calendar.
“In its meeting on the 3 May 2020, the ZIFA Emergency Committee also noted that other football associations were planning to resume football operations around August/September 2020 and has tentatively set this date as to when our leagues will commence should our government announce the complete end of the lockdown any day before the envisaged dates,” ZIFA said in a statement.
“The resumption of football activities will also be done in consultation with CAF and FIFA. For ZIFA, should the season begin in September that will see us also aligning our football calendar with the rest of the world.”
For years, domestic football has been weighing the option of switching to an August to May calendar despite deep reservations among some key stakeholders in the game.
The delayed kick-off is also set to have an impact on local clubs who are already struggling to stay afloat under the current lockdown as they have had to fulfill financial obligations like paying salaries and office rentals, with no direct income from the game.
ZIFA, recently boosted by a US$500 000 operational fund from FIFA as the first step of a relief plan to help survive the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, revealed plans to cater for some of the financial obligations of its affiliates and key personnel such as match officials.
The football association also recently applied for a support package from FIFA as it seeks to cushion its affiliates from the financial implications of the coronavirus outbreak.
“ZIFA will pay sportsman levy on behalf of our affiliate members to the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) for 24 500 registered athletes and officials. The disbursements to the SRC to be done immediately. It was also resolved that due to COVID-19, the top 80 referees to be paid an allowance of ZWL 2 000.00 each since some of them were not formally employed.”
ZIFA added: “Moreover, the Emergency Committee also authorised the disbursement of an administration grant to all affiliate members to help mitigate the COVID-19 effects. The quantum of the grant per affiliate is equivalent to the 2020 subscription fees paid or payable by the respective affiliate. The grant will be immediately disbursed to all paid up members and will be deducted from the ZIFA administration operations budget for 2020.”