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Domestic football calendar could switch by default

by Staff reporter
30 Apr 2020 at 07:04hrs | Views
THE suggestion by the FIFA medical chief to shelve professional football activities for, at least another four more months, could take domestic football into the August to May European calendar by default. The ZIFA Northern Region Division One clubs, a key feeder structure into the local Premiership, have already chosen to try and go with a possible August to May calendar this season.

Michel D'Hooghe, the FIFA medical chief, this week noted it was not safe to resume football activities due to the Covid-19 pandemic and, at best, expects the game to return in September. For years, domestic football has been toying with the idea of switching to an August to May calendar despite deep reservations among some key stakeholders in the game.

Local clubs, who are already struggling to stay afloat under the current lockdown as they have had to fulfil financial obligations like paying salaries and office rentals, with no direct income from the game, might need a bailout package even if the season switches to the August to May programme.

Dynamos chairman Isaiah Mupfurutsa yesterday said clubs were struggling just to stay afloat.

"Generally, it will be difficult but the way we are affected differs with each and every club, depending on how they are funded," he said.

"What is happening right now is that clubs are sinking money into operations that are not giving out any returns. This crisis has impacted every sector.

"Of course, you may have sponsorship to meet the expenses but that sponsor entered into the agreement expecting something in return and, if they don't get the brand visibility and the marketing they want, then there could be a problem in the long run.''

DeMbare have been assisted through the storm by their marriage with Gold Leaf Tobacco. But clubs owned by individuals like Yadah, Herentals and Bulawayo Chiefs could find themselves in trouble in the same way newboys Whawha and Tenax have struggled to raise affiliation fees. ZIFA have since applied for a support package from FIFA.

"Obviously, business is constrained because of the lockdown and the sponsors may not be able to give as much as they could,'' the Dynamos boss said.

"But, like I said, it all differs, depending on the type of business is behind the club because some businesses, like the telecommunications sector, have not felt the big impact while those in mining and manufacturing have resumed operations.

"So a bailout may be needed at some stage, at the moment, we cannot talk about it because it is not there yet but, if it comes, it will be handy. "We understand ZIFA have made an application and we will have to wait for the FIFA decision."

Regional associations that include the Football Association of Zambia, Botswana Football Association and their Malawian counterparts have also applied for the FIFA bailout. ZIFA spokesperson Xolisani Gwesela said they have applied to FIFA for a financial bailout to assist their members who have been adversely affected by the pandemic.

"ZIFA is a full member of FIFA and we have written to the mother body seeking assistance so that we can also get some relief to assist our own members and that is still work in progress as we have been asked to submit the requirements of each member," said Gwesela.

The Malawian football authorities announced this week they have created a Special Relief Fund aimed at bailing out elite players who have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

"FIFA is trying to work on another emergency relief package for member associations. But we are not sure when it will be ready,'' said FAM president, Walter Nyamilandu, who is a FIFA executive committee member.

"That is why we have decided to create our own bailout plan. The FIFA package will supplement the bailout package that FAM has initiated.

"Bearing in mind that affiliates' principle sources of revenues have been adversely affected, with the situation at hand, the (FAM executive) committee resolved to release the funds earlier than planned. "These funds will, henceforth, be available from June.'' FAM plan to disburse US$400 000 from that special projects fund.

They have also said their season will go ahead with some adjustments to the fixtures and could spill over to next year or it could be cancelled completely in the event no ball is kicked by October.

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Source - the herald