Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Senior Sports Reporter
FEARS of gate takings embezzlement involving Highlanders’ home games have been raised after the club released a low figure of paying fans compared to the high attendance of their Castle Lager Premiership clash with Dynamos on Sunday.
With the cheapest ticket pegged at $5 for the rest of ground, Barbourfields Stadium was more than 90 percent full, with only a few gaps on the southern stand, but official figures released by Bosso indicated that only 13 023 fans paid their way to watch the match.
“13 023 football loving supporters parted way with their hard-earned money to witness the flagship of Zimbabwean football. We can’t thank you enough for this amazing support and the way you conducted yourselves in the terraces. Thank you very much,” the club tweeted on Monday.
The figure has raised fears of a well co-ordinated looting exercise. According to Bulawayo City Council, owners of Barbourfields Stadium, the venue can carry up to 25 000 seated fans, while Luveve and White City stadiums have a carrying capacity of 10 000 each.
When Chicken Inn played host to Highlanders this season at Barbourfields, the GameCocks recorded 10 477 paying fans, yet the Mpilo end stand was virtually empty. However, when Highlanders were home against Chicken Inn at the same venue, Bosso reported a paltry 4 179 paying fans. Although it was a mid-week fixture, the difference is just too wide.
Chronicle Sport has it on good authority that last season some employees manning the gates were caught with stashes of tickets but Highlanders chose to sweep the matter under the carpet for fear of antagonising the relationship with their sponsors then.
There have been increasing calls for the PSL to adopt modern ways of paying, such as Computicket used in the Absa Premiership in South Africa.
This way, once the bar code on a ticket has been scanned, it can’t be used for the second time. Stadium owners only need to ensure there is reliable internet connectivity at the turnstiles.
Newly elected PSL chairman Farai Jere said he would want to tap into the way the South Africans run their league in a bid to bring professionalism into the Zimbabwean league and one of the ways will be to ensure Computicket is introduced with effect from next season.