Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
A LANDMARK deal to save CAPS United from collapsing has been sealed with Harare businessman, Farai Jere, taking over as the new majority shareholder at Zimbabwe’s third biggest football club after agreeing terms with his partner Twine Phiri.
The Green Machine, an iconic football brand in this country, have been in the intensive care unit, for the better part of this year, weighed down by crippling financial challenges and a debt that forced two former board members to file a High Court application seeking the club’s liquidation.
The Saturday Herald exclusively revealed that a deal was thrashed between Jere and Phiri that will see fresh capital being injected into the club and, on Saturday, the two shareholders went a step further and changed the ownership structure of the four-time Zimbabwe champions.
Jere is now the majority shareholder at CAPS United, with his stake increasing from 25 percent to 80 percent, and promising to secure funds to help get the club back on its feet, while Phiri has a 20 percent stake.
The deal involved a conversion of the more than $1,4 million debt, which CAPS owed Jere, which accumulated from funds he pumped into the club in about half-a-dozen years, into equity which now gives the businessman a huge controlling stake in the Premiership giants. The debt has been weighing down heavily on the Green Machine and the club’s plight has not been helped by serious financial challenges, which exploded into a crisis this year, and litigation from some of the people who poured funds to keep it afloat in the past two years.
The first assignment for Jere, as the new majority shareholder at the club, was to ensure that funds were provided for the team to travel to Rusape, for their Castle Lager Premiership tie against Dongo Sawmill, and the players responded with a 2-0 win.
Then, yesterday, Jere engaged Harare lawyer Lewis Uriri and businessman, Nhamo Tutisani, to withdraw their High Court case for the liquidation of the club, with a guarantee that the dispute that forced them to take that route will now be addressed in-house.
A board of directors, which will help in the running of the club, will be named this week and early indications are that Alois Bunjira, a championship winner with CAPS United, will be wooed into that set-up which will also have some businessmen and lawyers.
Abraham Kawadza, a former CAPS United National Supporters Association chairman, will also be lured back to help the club he served for a long time, as the face of the fans, before he disappeared from the radar.
Jere feels CAPS United need to re-establish the link with their former players and Bunjira’s presence, on the board of directors, will not only provide that but will be the starting point of their journey to connect with those who starred for this team on the field.
The welfare of coach, Mark Harrison, and his players, who have suffered during the dark days when the club was failing to pay them their salaries and bonuses, will now be taken care of with the Englishman even set to get a company car and better living conditions.
Jere yesterday paid tribute to his partner, Phiri, for putting the interests of the club ahead of his personal interests.
“I have to say that Mr Phiri, after careful consideration, has put the interests of CAPS United ahead of his personal interests and only a good leader can have the guts to do that, especially when you consider the long time that he has been owner and what he has invested over that time,” Jere said.
“I take my hat off to him because only those blessed with vision, like him, can make such a bold decision to say that, maybe, this is the time for someone else to lead the way, especially for something that means so much for him because he passionately loves CAPS United and has sacrificed a lot for us to be here.
“Many clubs run by individuals, which came after Mr Phiri took over at CAPS United, collapsed and that we are still standing is testimony of his capacity as a leader and I salute him for making the big decision that the club needs a new direction.”
He said he will work, with his colleagues, to ensure CAPS United not only survive but battle for honours.
“I am not here to just talk, because anyone can do that, but I hope that my actions and the work from the people that we will put onto the board of directors, who will work closely with our chief executive Joe Makuvire, will make louder statements as we try, as one family, to take CAPS United where we believe this great club belongs,” said Jere.
“Our coach, Mark, has shown tremendous passion for CAPS United and, anyone else in his position will have walked away given the challenges he faced, and I think we owe it to him to ensure we create the right conditions for him to improve our team and our players have shown tremendous loyalty to this brand and we owe them a lot.
“Our fans have suffered a lot and we can assure them that we will try our best to provide them with a team they will be proud to call their club but it’s a process, it’s not going to happen overnight, and we ask that they bear with us during this transitional period.”