Councils must upgrade stadia

HARARE - As the 2018 Castle Premiership season opens tomorrow, there is a lot that the authorities will be grappling with as this year’s lap progresses.

It is a fact that the majority of Premiership clubs are struggling financially, something not far removed from the state of the national economy. For most clubs, fulfilling fixtures — especially away games — has remained a nightmare without sponsorship.

The recent condemnation of various stadia across the country by the First Instance Body (FIB) for failing to meet Fifa Club Licensing (FCL) requirements must have come as a shock.

However, the FIB had indicated following previous inspections that some stadiums required upgrading, even those that had been given the nod to host premiership matches this season.

Local authorities in the country seem to be sleeping on the job and yet they rake in thousands of dollars for the use of their stadia across the country. At least private players who have kept stadia like Baobab, which is home to Ngezi Football Club and Gibbo (Triangle FC) must be commended for ensuring the playing grounds continuously get face-lifts.

One is forced to remember the late Eric Rosen’s passion with his Motor Action Sports Club that was home to the now-defunct Motor Action FC.

Last season, Tsholotsho Football Club played their home matches at Dulivhadzimo in Beitbridge, forcing the rest of the league clubs to travel to the border town for matches against the Matabeleland North side.

Stadia like Rufaro, Luveve, Mandava, Babourfields and the National Sports Stadium among those that have been allowed to host matches must continue to get facelifts, improving not only their drainage, seating, the playing turf, lighting, entrance gates but also ablution facilities and many other key factors that make stadiums meet requirements.

Rufaro is a typical example where the ablution facilities are usually locked because they are not usable and yet the City of Harare charges clubs fees for using the facility. The area around the stadium is muddy when it rains. Perhaps cheap surfacing could change things for the better.

Sadly, no one at Town House thinks beyond collecting the money. As such, clubs must demand minimum conditions before they use the stadia.

The money councils make should be ploughed back to improve the very stadia that generate it so that they continue to bring in the cash, playing host not only to football matches but key functions with mass attendances as well.


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