Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
BUOYANT CAPS United cheered their return to stability yesterday by unveiling a Board of Directors whose chairman, Lewis Uriri, immediately made a bold declaration that their ambitious mission was to turn the Green Machine into a dominant football club in the country.
Three days after businessman Farai Jere completed his takeover of CAPS United by acquiring an 80 percent shareholding in the country’s third biggest football franchise and promising to secure funds to stabilise a stricken ship and power the quest for honours, the Green Machine leadership met in Harare yesterday.
The early signs are encouraging as CAPS United step into a new era and yesterday the team’s players and technical staff were paid their salaries for May, the first time this has happened in months, while they also received their winning bonuses for beating Dongo Sawmill at the weekend.
An agreement was reached yesterday for the High Court case, where Uriri and another board member Nhamo Tutisani, had applied for the liquidation of the Premiership giants on the basis that it was now insolvent, be withdrawn, in another big move towards stability.
Jere, whose acquisition of an 80 percent stake in CAPS United was financed by a conversion into equity of the more than $1.4 million that the club owed him, funds he pumped into the team’s operations for six years until 2013, was immediately elected the team president yesterday.
He takes over from his partner, Twine Phiri, who now assumes the post of vice-president with Uriri being the chairman of the Board of Directors, Tutisani becoming the Board Member in charge of operations and Alois Bunjira, a former star player at the club, taking over as the Board member in charge of marketing.
Mordecai Sachikonye, a Harare medical doctor, retains his post as Board Member in charge of technical affairs, Abraham Kawadza returns to the team’s leadership as the Board Member who co-ordinates the activities of the fans, Bulawayo businessman, Alex Munyaka, also retained his position on the board while a Board Member, in charge of finance, will be named in two weeks.
Shakespeare Chinogwenya, a lifelong CAPS United fan who has worked in various portfolios at the club and was one of the key back-room staff members when the Green Machine powered their way to back-to-back league championships in 2004 and 2005, has also been lured back into the team as the welfare manager.
Uriri told The Herald yesterday, shortly after their board meeting, they were bullish they will take CAPS United back to the top in the battle for honours, on the domestic front, and said their decision to apply for the club to be liquidated was never a mission to try and destroy the club.
He says his 88-year-old father has always supported CAPS United and he believes he owes it to him, and millions of other people who have always identified themselves with this brand, to ensure that they corrected the wrongs they believed were pulling this club towards disintegration.
“The idea was always to correct what we perceived were wrongs, not just the entity called CAPS United, but the CAPS United family in its entirety,” Uriri said.
“The liquidation process in court was meant to correct what we perceived was not being done correctly and, fortunately, everyone has come to their senses, it has been corrected and we are happy with the way things are going.
“So, yes, we are back to give effect to that dream we have always had, that is to make the Green Machine the biggest soccer club in the country, in the sub-region, on the continent, if not even in the world.
“I am happy to state that, as we speak, funds have been put in place to meet the immediate financial obligations, we have long-term plans that will be known in due course and we believe we have a competent team that will turn around the fortunes of CAPS United in a month, if not less.”
Uriri said he was confident that the challenges, which haunted CAPS United in the past few years and pushed the club closer to liquidation, with some critics even fearing that it could collapse, would not return to haunt them.
“I suppose with the re-arrangement of the shareholding and with new capital coming in that cannot be said to be a possibility in the foreseeable future,” the Harare lawyer said.
When he arrived as part of the Board of Directors at the beginning of last year, Uriri promised that CAPS United would be leading the championship race, after 10 games, or he would be forced to walk away from the project.
This time, the CAPS United chairman chose to be cautious, in terms of the short-term targets, even though he believes they can turn the Green Machine, in the long run, into the dominant football club in the country.
“I haven’t spoken to the coach, I don’t know what difficulties he has and the situation on the ground,” he said.
“I will have to speak to the coach to know what the target is, previously I had spoken to the coach and I had his assurance that we would be on top.”
Tutisani also told The Herald that it was never their intention, when they approached the High Court, to destroy CAPS United. “Our mission was to ensure that a brand like CAPS United will have a future that could be guaranteed, with everyone playing their role in an honest way, and I can tell you that, for all that was happening, I was still helping the players because this has always been my team and I love it and wants to see it doing well.”