The scourge that afflicts community clubs


WORD that newly-crowned Premier Soccer League champions Dynamos are broke to the marrow and are, as a result, contemplating withdrawing from the next edition of the Champions League continental competition is no news at all, so to speak — it is the usual affliction of community clubs.

While there was charm and jubilation in winning the title, it was always certain that Dynamos would face financial hardships in their Africa sojourn and this is when winning the title becomes a pain.

In other words, Dynamos need a lot of money to participate in Africa and this monumental requirement cannot be met by being a community club, the same model runners-up Highlanders also continue to maintain — no wonder they are said to be half-a-million dollars in the red.

The community club tag does not give anyone ownership of the club and hence, does not impose a burden on any one individual, or group of individuals, to ensure that the club is financially in a healthy state as a going concern, never mind being able to take part in continental tournaments that demand more money than they give in prize money.

Unfortunately, the financial wellbeing of clubs, in any sport, is inherently tied to the financial health of the country, just like any other activity for that matter.

What this speaks to is that until the economic fortunes of the country improve Dynamos and Highlanders — and any other club and sport for that matter — cannot expect to draw anything meaningful from the impoverished economy.

The community that Dynamos and Highlanders relies upon so heavily can hardly fend for itself and, in such circumstances, this community does not have a “farthing” to use an archaic British term, to spare for their beloved club.

A community club is also not capable of borrowing funds, even if it is in a position to have cash inflows from match attendances, because the financial institution lending its depositors’ funds to such a club is taking a very high risk of non-payment of such a debt.

Yes, these clubs have been lent money in the past and would continue to be lent in future, but there is no running away from the fact that these are risky debtors and, based on a risk scale, the interest on such loans is very high indeed, making the debt, even if paid back, very expensive.

Executive committee members running a community club know that they can be removed from office at any one time, even for no good reason.

Both Dynamos and Highlanders have been through this humiliating experience in the past — of course the best example of such shenanigans is my beloved Zimbabwe Saints and look where they are today!

With such knowledge there is no way the executive committee members would stand a guarantor to a bank loan for the club.
In short, the community club concept as it is in this country, has long passed its sale by date and does not give any value to a club.

It is crying for transformation — in which direction is what the debate should be not whether or not to change! Now that we are in the off-season, it is time to engage in that debate.

While we have all been engrossed in our local soccer championship race, something big has been happening down under — as Australia is commonly referred to.

The Ashes cricket series, that is the height of cricket wars between England and Australia, has started with the latter hosting the current five Test series.

The hosts have hurt English hearts and pride, with a huge 381-run triumph in the opening Test of the Ashes at the Gabba, Brisbane, but it was the manner of their victory that has left England captain Alistair Cook and the England selectors with a mammoth task ahead of the second Test which starts in Adelaide — how to deal with the ferocity of bowler Mitchell Johnson who finished the first Test with an impressive haul of 9-103.

In response to some e-mailed inquiry and for the benefit of those who may have missed it — the World Cup tournament in Brazil next year comprises five teams from Africa (Algeria — unless Burkina Faso succeed in their appeal to Fifa, Cameroon, Ghana, the Ivory Coast and Nigeria); four from Asia (Australia, Iran, Japan and South Korea); 13 from Europe (Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, England, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, Spain and Switzerland); four from North, Central America and the Caribbean (Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico and the US) and six from South America (Argentina, hosts Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Uruguay).

For those still steeped in history, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia are two of the six countries that emerged at the break-up of the former Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia — the other countries are Serbia, Slovenia, Macedonia and Montenegro.

The draw for the finals would be held at the Brazilian resort town of Costa do Sauipe in Bahia state Friday, a week from today (December 6) when the 32 teams in the fiesta will know their groups and the route to the title decider.