Castle Lager PSL blighted by crisis of leadership

The England senior men’s national soccer team has not won a major title for 57 years.

1966 was the last time the Three Lions won a title when Alf Ramsay’s men beat West Germany 4-2 in the World Cup final at Wembley.

Then England skipper Bobby Moore was presented with the trophy by Queen Elizabeth II —the first and only time English football celebrated winning the global spectacle.

Despite not winning the World Cup or any major title in the last 57 years, English football commands respect, thanks to a vibrant top-flight league —the Premier League.

The English top-flight is arguably the most watched football league in the world, with a reported one billion homes in over 188 countries watching some of the biggest stars on the planet compete in it.

In any country which takes football as a business, the top-flight league is the benchmark as far as the game is concerned.

Regrettably, in Zimbabwe, the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League is a touchstone of the ailing Zimbabwean football.

The Premier Soccer League announced last week that league games have been  suspended until July 1. 

The suspension of league matches is just a tip of the iceberg as far problems affecting the PSL are concerned and understandably, observers are now arguing that the local top-flight is suffering from a crisis of leadership.

“The PSL leadership is a mess, and Farai Jere as the chairman, is responsible for the secretariat and should act wisely and  protect the integrity of the league’s decision-making. We are in a fix and in need of a crisis meeting to save our football,” reckons football data scout Solomon Munganyi.

During a PSL match between Cranborne Bullets and GreenFuel at the National Sports Stadium on May 12, the Premiership debutants’ coach Rodwell Dhlakama sat on the bench for the entire first half only to be told he could not do so for the second stanza.

Dhlakama was ejected from the bench by PSL marketing manager Rodwell Thabe because the former Ngezi Platinum Stars gaffer did not attend the refresher course held by the league ahead of the 2023 season.

Whether Thabe was right to eject Dhlakama from the bench or not is subject to debate but the simple question is: why was the coach allowed to sit on the bench in the first half?

Such incidents happening in the PSL, is a sad reality of how off colour the country’s top flight league has become.

Later that day (May 12), the PSL shocked the local football fraternity when they announced that Bata Stadium —the home of Gweru-based Premiership debutants Sheasham —had been banned from hosting league matches.

“This serves to advise that in the interest of all football stakeholders, Bata Stadium will not be hosting Castle Lager Premier Soccer League matches to allow completion of the construction work that is currently taking place at the stadium,” PSL  Communications and Media Liaison Officer Kudzai Bare said in a statement.

“We applaud Sheasham FC for embarking on such a massive project which will help change the Zimbabwean football landscape.”

Days prior to the announcement, Sheasham had hosted Highlanders in a league match at the Gweru facility.

In fact, the PSL held a roadshow in the city of progress,  during which they encouraged football fans to attend the Sheasham-Bosso game in their numbers.

The same fans were then informed days later, that the same stadium is not fit to host league games as the PSL leadership mysteriously overturned a decision by the ZIFA First Instance Body (FIB) —the local licensing body.

  Sheasham Vice President Happiness Dziva      explains what happened from the time Bata    Stadium was given the green to host league    matches, to the time it was banned by the   PSL, during a press conference held in  Gweru on May 26. 

In another bad advertisement of the country’s top-flight league, the PSL allowed Ngezi Platinum Stars to wear kits with the Fidelity Life logo on the left sleeve during their 1-0 over Yadah at the National Sports Stadium last Monday, despite clearly informing clubs ahead of the 2023 season,  that the deal with life assurance company had expired.

“This serves to inform all clubs to suspend the branding of shirt left hand sleeve with the Fidelity Life logo, as the contract with Fidelity Life Assurance of Zimbabwe has expired,” PSL Chief Executive Officer Kenedy Ndebele wrote in a memorandum to all clubs on February 13, 2023.

Ngezi Platinum Stars wore kits with the Fidelity Life Assurance logo on the left sleeves during their match against Yadah on June 5, despite the PSL clearly stating the contract with the company had expired. Picture: Libertino

Additionally, Bulawayo giants Highlanders announced on May 24 that they will put the logo of one of their sponsors —The Zimbabwe National Parks (Zimparks) —on the left sleeve on their playing kit.

“We are pleased to announce that we have entered into an accommodation partnership with the Zimbabwe National Parks and (Zimparks),” Bossso said in a statement.

“The arrangement will see the club’s first team camping at Maleme Lodges in Matopo for all our local matches. In return,  our first team will carry the ‘Visit Matopo’ on the left sleeve of our playing kits.”

The move violates section 1 (ii) of the PSL kit branding regulations, which states that “the left hand sleeve is mandatorily reserved for the league sponsors” and not that of a club.

While various paradoxes continue to mar the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League under the nose of the Farai Jere-led PSL administration,  the reputation of the country’s top-flight league continues to suffer.

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