Zifa, PSL must iron out dispute

HARARE - The Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) and the Premier Soccer League (PSL) must quickly find common ground regarding the automatic promotion/play-offs stand-off.

The Castle Lager Premiership and the four second-tier leagues South, Central, Northern and Eastern regions were thrown into chaos following last month’s Zifa Annual General Meeting (AGM).

At the gathering, Zifa councillors voted to relegate four teams from the PSL while the four champions from Division One will be promoted automatically.

At last year’s AGM, the councillors had passed a resolution to relegate only two teams from the top tier league while the Division One champions would take part in a play-off.

However, all these plans have been thrown into disarray. Already three teams — Black Rhinos, Bantu Rovers and Shabanie Mine — have won their Division One championships.

The Eastern Region is yet to be determined but there is a two-horse battle between Yadah FC and Buffaloes for the regional championship.

In the PSL, at least four teams — Mutare City, Tsholotsho, Chapungu and Hwange — have also been caught up in the mess.

There is now too much anxiety from the clubs and the fans because it seems neither Zifa nor the PSL is willing to concede and strike a deal to end this impasse.

If Zifa wanted to ring changes in the topflight, this should have been done well in time. This would have helped teams to prepare adequately for the eventualities on the one hand and the forthcoming season on the other. Club owners would want to draw up tentative budgets, taking into account their possible fixtures.

The most logical solution for the two parties to make in this scenario would to relegate only two teams from the PSL as originally planned.

The four Division One champions would then be promoted automatically without the need of a play-off to make it 18 teams in the 2017 season.

This will be a win-win situation for all involved parties.

However, if Zifa and the PSL fail to find common ground, it will have a negative impact on the league’s image and might potentially scare away sponsors in such a dry environment.

The PSL’s deal with Delta Beverages is up for review at the end of this season and it should be the league’s top priority to retain their main sponsor.

But as long as there is discord between Zifa and the PSL, it is highly likely the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed company would like to be associated with local football in any way.

If a deal is not reached between the two bodies soon, then football will be the net loser at the end of the day.

 

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