Petros Kausiyo Deputy Sports Editor
THE Premiership might have taken an off-season break, but the league’s chiefs are not resting amid revelations by chief executive Kenny Ndebele yesterday that they had upped their lobby on Zifa to review the contentious relegation issue and demote two teams from the end of the 2015 season. There will be no Premiership action at least until the first week of March next year, but Ndebele said they could not sit on their laurels as it was imperative that the outstanding administrative matters be resolved during the long break and before the new season marathon begins.
The PSL chief executive said the league’s board of governors had at their meeting in Harare on December 12 resolved to up their bid to convince Zifa into reviewing downwards the number of teams that are demoted.
Ndebele said they were hopeful that the lobbying process would have reaped rewards by the time the Zifa assembly meets early next year.
The Zifa assembly, local football’s top policy making body this year rejected the bid to reduce from four the number of teams that are demoted from the PSL but that position has left Zimbabwean football in a unique and yet embarrassing scenario where the 16-team domestic Premiership is forced to relegate 25 percent of its membership.
Yet the matter seemed to have been on course to being resolved amicably when the PSL made a strong representation to the Zifa constitutional review committee, who are understood to have noted the need to have the number reduced to two.
“The PSL body will lobby the Zifa president (Cuthbert Dube) and the councillors through their regional chairmen to have the relegation matter discussed and resolved. We would want our secretariat to also soon start designing the fixture programme and we are looking at starting the season early around the first weekend of March
“We will also need to stick to the dates of the knockout tournaments and we are going to address that with the sponsors because this year we had a number of changes to the original dates for the cup games, which is undesirable. We will also factor in the continental fixtures,’’ Ndebele said.
Although the PSL unsuccessfully tried to have a reduction in the relegated teams implemented before the end of the 2014 season, Zifa chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze admitted earlier in the year that the top-flight body had a genuinely strong argument.
Mashingaidze also acknowledged that Zimbabwe needed to have a national First Division League unlike the current scenario where the second tier league is played at regional level in the Northern, Southern, Eastern and Central regions.
“The PSL complained about the number of teams being relegated because they feel the league cannot lose 25 percent of its teams at the end of every season.
“The board will be seized with the matter and ensure there is a proper roadmap to get the matter resolved, there will be a lot of consultations and engagements on the issue of relegation and promotion.
“In fact there is a provision in the new constitution for the setting up of a national First Division League, which is ideally what we should have,’’ Mashingaidze said then.
But with no major steps having been taken to realign the regional leagues into a national project, the PSL are hoping that between now and the end of February, a solution would have been found to the relegation puzzle.
The PSL will also be banking on Zifa as the custodians of the national game to finally retire the obsolete 1996 rules and regulations under which domestic football has been operating.
“The rules and regulations that we are using have become a serious concern because we really need to move with the times. I believe there is a document on the new rules and regulation and I know that Hara (Zifa board member) was working on that.
“As PSL we have also agreed to look at our own rules and regulations and align them with the new trends.
“The delay in implementing the club licensing requirements is also stalling progress and the national association would have to be stricter on that because it is only the national board (Zifa) which has the power to reject a club’s application to be licensed after assessing whether or not a club qualifies to be licensed. At the moment clubs are choosing what they want to implement instead of them being guided by the statutes for which they should simply comply.
“In this day we should not be having a scenario where a PSL club is walked over because they could not fulfil a fixture. What we saw happening in Gweru between Chapungu and Chiredzi is going backwards yet just a few years ago we were proud to have a club in the Champions League semi-finals.
“So we really have to take advantage of the off-season break as administrator to put our house in order,’’ Ndebele said.