Byo City FC gobbles over $1m

BULAWAYO - Bulawayo mayor Solomon Mguni was in defensive mode after it emerged the council-bankrolled Bulawayo City FC gobbled over $1,2 million during their two-year stay in the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League (PSL).

Amakhosi were promoted into the top flight in 2017 after winning the Southern Region Division One League.

In their first year in the top flight, they finished the season in 14th place just one spot above the relegation zone.

Amakhosi avoided the drop by a single point that season but that luck finally ran out last season.

After chopping and changing coaches all season, Bulawayo City were finally relegated last year — finishing in 16th place and were some nine points away from safety.

However, the team’s existence has created a lot of friction between council and residents.

With the council’s financial coffers dwindling day-by-day, residents are clamouring for the municipality to divert the resources towards service delivery.

But Mguni has stood his ground and maintained council will continue to bankroll the club even if it goes down to the fourth tier of Zimbabwean football.     

“Bulawayo City Football Club is here to stay,” Mguni said.

“We don't mind whether it plays Division Three football or Premiership football; it is part of our community social responsibility programme.

“That is why it is under the oversight of the Department of Housing and Community Services. It is there to help our children grow in sport.”

Asked about the ratepayer’s money being thrown in the team, at the expense of service delivery the mayor said: “We are nurturing sports talent and at the same time creating employment for the youths. Those attacking the team's existence don't understand the idea behind having a municipality club.

“It’s not a profit making venture, but it’s a community project to empower youths through sport as well as to entertain our residents.”

He added: “The board has a mandate to complement council efforts by sourcing for sponsorship deals. Council is not bankrolling the team on its own. We have several partners on board.”

Mguni said the team has a grant from council to support its operations.

Sources at the council told the Daily News that the football team which is currently preparing for life in the second tier has the support of a majority of councillors.

Bulawayo Football Club advisory chairperson Siboniso Khumalo yesterday said the club hopes to make a quick return to the top flight by 2020.

“We are now going into Division One, that’s what is there and we are now preparing ourselves for the beginning of the season.

“Our aim is to come back into the Premiership as quickly as possible,” Khumalo said.

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