Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
THERE will be no broadcasting of the opening round of the 2018 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League matches this weekend, as the league is yet to finalise on the media audio-visual broadcasting rights.
Following the expiry of a six-year broadcasting rights deal with SuperSport at the end of the 2017 season, the PSL begun a search for a new partner to beam the topflight for the next five years.
The PSL opened the floor for bidders to submit their tenders in a transparent way. The deadline for submission of tenders was last month.
Dismissing messages circulating on social media platforms that state broadcaster ZBC is going to beam the opening weekend’s matches, PSL spokesperson Kudzai Bare said: “The issue of media audio-visual broadcasting rights is still ongoing and that process hasn’t been finalised. Once the league reaches a deal with anyone, football stakeholders will be notified accordingly.
“It has also been brought to our attention that false messages are being circulated on social media that matches will be broadcast. Let me categorically state that no games will be broadcast until the media audio-visual broadcasting right process has been completed. Fans can go and watch their teams play at the venues where the games have been fixtured.”
Besides ZBC, some reports claimed a Switzerland company Infront Sports and Media was interested in the deal.
Dr Dish, whose marriage with Econet Media and Kwese TV collapsed in spectacular fashion, are also reportedly interested in securing the PSL television rights deal as part of their programming with new foreign investors.
SuperSport were the first to win the rights after their historic marriage with the PSL in 2012. Since then, the league’s stock has been rising, with clubs hoping for a bigger and better package from which they can reap more rewards.
With SuperSport on board, clubs cashed in around $22 000 per season, something that cushioned their coffers. Some argued that the money paid to clubs through the SuperSport deal was peanuts, but it was better than starting the season without knowing whether the league will be able to get a better deal.
A positive from the SuperSport deal was that some clubs managed to market their players to foreign teams, mostly South African Premiership sides, which followed action on TV.
Meanwhile, the season kicks off this weekend with big matches that will not be archived involving the Chicken Inn versus Dynamos encounter at Barbourfields Stadium on Saturday and the ZPC Kariba and FC Platinum fixture at the National Sports Stadium.
Saturday, March 17: Bulawayo City v Chapungu (Luveve), Ngezi Platinum v Herentals (Baobab), ZPC Kariba v FC Platinum (National Sports Stadium), Nichrut v Mutare City (Mandava), Yadah FC v Bulawayo Chiefs (Rufaro), Chicken Inn v Dynamos (Barbourfields)
Sunday, March 18: Highlanders v Black Rhinos (Barbourfields), Shabanie Mine v Triangle United (Mandava), Caps United v Harare City (National Sports Stadium).