Latest News Editor's Choice

News / National

NetOne calls time on sponsorship

by Staff reporter
29 Apr 2020 at 23:54hrs | Views
ONE of the country's principal football sponsors, NetOne, have called time on their association with the game, in a major blow to the nation's biggest sporting discipline. It's the first major boardroom bombshell, triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic, to hit local football and confirms fears the game, as is happening around the world, could be badly hit by the epidemic.

The mobile network operator says its focus has turned towards fighting the Covid-19 pandemic and, with local companies set to feel the full impact of the epidemic on their operations, they were no longer in a position to continue with their football sponsorship programmes. Sources said NetOne remained "dedicated to creating a better future for Zimbabwe, by transforming and developing the communities in which we operate", and "pride ourselves as having the nation at heart and, as witnessed through our active Corporate Social Initiatives, will continue to support the Government of Zimbabwe''.

To demonstrate the change in focus, said the sources, the company recently "unveiled a Covid response facility to the tune of $10 million, as a collaborative initiative (with TelOne) to capacitate health facilities during and post Covid-19.''

This includes supplying equipment and drilling boreholes at the country's main hospitals and providing sanitisers and disinfectants to frontline medical personnel. The Covid-19 crisis has thrown sport, around the world, into turmoil with many major sporting activities postponed or cancelled while inflicting a multi-billion-dollar damage on different sporting disciplines. ZIFA have already applied for a US$2 million bailout from FIFA, to try and help the domestic national game deal with the crisis triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic.

A number of other FAs around the world have also applied for a similar bailout package from the world football governing body.

"FIFA is working on possibilities to provide assistance to the football community around the world after making a comprehensive assessment of the financial impact this pandemic will have on football,'' FIFA said.

NetOne have evolved into one of the big sponsors of domestic football, bankrolling the salaries of the players and coaches at CAPS United and Highlanders, providing incentives to the two clubs to strive for excellence and also providing them with kits.

Although the three-year sponsorship package was pegged at $700 000, for each club last year, the company ended up pouring in far much more than that figure. They also splashed $170 000 on Black Rhinos, which also included a kit and a $50 000 performance-based bonus, as part of their financial outlay into the game. Airforce of Zimbabwe side, Chapungu, also received support from NetOne last year.

NetOne described themselves as a company who have been "spearheading the development of soccer since the turn of the millennium, at both national and club level, through their sponsorship packages which also covered financial and material support for the Warriors, Mighty Warriors and the Young Warriors".

Along the way, the company also sponsored the NetOne Cup, the Charity Shield, the One Wallet Top 8 and Easy Call Cup. When, they changed their focus to bankrolling the clubs, they went for the Big Three - Dynamos, CAPS United and Highlanders - before the Glamour Boys left the stable to find a partnership with a new sponsor last year.

The Green Machine and Bosso remained with NetOne and the stability at the two giants was credited, to a large extent, to the relationship with their flagship sponsors who were taking care of the salaries of their players and coaching staff. CAPS United led the battle for the league championship, until the final weekend of the campaign last year when they self-destructed and ended up finishing third, while Highlanders won the Castle Cup. At the Bosso annual meeting earlier this year, club chairman Kenneth Mhlophe told members that NetOne remained committed to their partnership.

"Our main sponsors NetOne Cellular remain committed to our partnership and they supported the review of salaries, camping and travelling costs during the year particularly when prices began to shift way out of budgets that had been allocated,'' he said.

However, NetOne will be calling time on their sponsorship of domestic football although the company will give both Bosso and Makepekepe enough notice, for the termination of their partnership, by sponsoring the two giants this year. After that, according to sources, the parties will go separate ways.

"The year 2019 witnessed NetOne committing to three-year sponsorship contracts with CAPS United FC and Highlanders FC,'' sources said.

"The sponsorship comprised basic sponsorship and performance incentives, which saw the teams playing world-class football and entertaining the nation of Zimbabwe.

"While NetOne has a demonstrable record of contributing immensely towards the development of football in Zimbabwe, the recent developments affecting the entire world, have made it difficult to maintain a long-term sponsorship commitment to Highlanders FC and CAPS United FC.

"Even the Summer Olympics, Wimbledon Tennis and French Open, which are typically some of the world's most-watched sporting broadcasts, have been pushed back by a year.

"The money-spinning UEFA Champions League and Europa League have been suspended indefinitely, and the local Premier Soccer League has not been spared.'' NetOne, the sources said, have not been spared by the challenges which have arisen in recent months.

"As a business, the operating environment has been constrained with the overall economic landscape expected to shrink, thereby affecting revenue generation capacity for most companies, NetOne included,'' the sources said.

"The uncertainty brought about by this pandemic, makes it imperative to review our long-term financial obligations, and re-align our strategies and expenditure to high priority areas.

"As such, maintaining long-term football contracts with CAPS Utd FC and Highlanders FC is no longer tenable. It is against this background that NetOne has decided to discontinue the active three-year sponsorship contracts with the two teams — particularly as they relate to the 2021 football season.

"NetOne undertakes to fulfil its contractual obligations, and will process the full sponsorship amount to both teams as it relates to the 2020 football season.

"However, given the uncertainty that lies ahead, notice for termination will be served for the 2021 season.

"This decision has been arrived after careful consideration of various factors, including the need for all corporates to play an active role in pooling resources to support and complement Government's efforts to fight the pandemic and rebuild communities during and after the Covid-19 scourge.''

Source - the herald