…as Ruwa FC pulls out due to financial constraints
By Clayton Shereni
Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) Eastern Region Soccer League (ERSL) board has moved to bar Grayham FC with immediate effect from participating in the league over failure to meet affiliation fees.
The development has been widely criticized as teams continue to struggle due to the prevailing harsh economic conditions.
Grayham FC has been a perennial campaigner in the ERSL but was dealt a major blow a few hours before their crucial home match against Mutare City Rovers.
Gusha Bhora as Mutare City is widely known has since been awarded three points.
Club owner, Gray Hama told Centre News that they were informed of the decision to stop them from participating just a few hours before their scheduled fixture.
He demanded that there be a forensic audit of the previous seasons’ affiliation fees which he said haven’t been accounted for.
“Eastern Region is an institution that we fund as clubs through affiliation and many other avenues for income. I now request that there be a forensic audit as to how these funds have been used. We demand as clubs that from 2020 when we paid full affiliation and no ball was kicked, to 2021, 2022, and 2023 all the region’s accounts be audited. Otherwise, it won’t make much sense to continue paying affiliation for those so-called Executive members to fatten their pockets at the expense of the beautiful game,” said Hama.
Centre News also spoke to Zifa ERSL vice chairperson, Wisdom Simba who confirmed the development and said it was informed by a resolution made by clubs at an Annual General Meeting (AGM) on June 17, 2023.
“Clubs resolved when we held the AGM in Masvingo. This is not a decision by the board, they (clubs) agreed and a July 16, deadline was set. We tried to contact the club owner (Hama) for them to make a payment plan but he was not available so we had no choice but to stop the fixture,” said Simba.
Simba also confirmed that Ruwa FC is officially out of the league due to financial problems.
The team failed to fulfill fixtures and informed the regional board of their decision to pull out of the league.
“Ruwa is officially out and according to the standing statutes, we are going to deduct points and goals from teams that won against them. We had offered Chivhu FC and Chisase the franchise but unfortunately, they are also constrained,” added Simba.
He also said JM Busha FC finally paid their affiliation fee yesterday (July 22) and will fulfill their match against Masvingo United at Mucheke Stadium.
Renco Mine FC are also reportedly facing serious challenges and failed to travel to Ruwa for their away match against Grayham a few weeks ago.
Some club reps in the ERSL that spoke to this publication lambasted the board for ‘majoring on the minor’ and derailing progress in the region.
They also quizzed how affiliation fees for the previous season was used alleging that they didn’t get satisfactory responses at the AGM.
Currently, the ERSL board has three elected officials with the remainder having been co-opted a move which some club representatives have widely criticized demanding an urgent elective AGM.
It comes at a time clubs are in a financial crisis.
The financial mess has also not spared topflight leagues with some cutting their wage bills.