ZIFA president Philip Chiyangwa is today expected to tie the loose ends to a sponsorship package, estimated to be around $2 million, which will see NetOne coming on board as the flagship sponsors of the Warriors and the Mighty Warriors.
Reports last night suggest that Telecel could also come on board, as a sponsor of the Premier Soccer League, as part of a package that will see the mobile phone companies making a big splash in sponsoring domestic football.
Chiyangwa and NetOne officials have been holding a number of meetings in the past few weeks and sources told The Herald that the marriage is set to be officially tied today and an announcement will be made in due course.
The sponsorship package will not only see NetOne ploughing funds into ZIFA, for the Warriors and the Mighty Warriors, but will also see the football governing body using its huge community to boost the business interests of the sponsor.
“You can say that it’s a done deal, as of now, because the two parties are agreed on what should be done and the meetings have been going on very, very well and the two parties are excited about the marriage,” sources told The Herald.
“It’s a win-win situation because it’s not like that NetOne will just be injecting this $2 million into ZIFA, for the Warriors and the Mighty Warriors, but the football leaders also have to play their part, as per the agreement, to ensure that they use their game to boost the business interests of the sponsors.
“There are a number of measures that are being considered and both parties believe that this could be an exciting time for the two parties and what is just left is for the loose ends to be tied and then there will be an announcement.
“NetOne have been on an aggressive marketing programme and their executives believe that football could help them reach their goals and there are a number of packages that are being put together.
“The mobile phone companies have played a big part in developing football in many parts of the world and in South Africa, the two biggest clubs, Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs, were transformed, overnight, into huge commercial entities after they entered into their long-term agreement with Vodacom who are their flagship sponsors.
“Vodacom are also the main sponsors of Super Rugby, which is the big tournament that features the best clubs from the southern part of the world.
“MTN have also played a big role in helping football in South Africa and they sponsor the top-flight league in Zambia and that is why the Zambian players, who for long have been playing here in Zimbabwe, can now go back home and still get a good living.
“Even the Zambian coaches like Tennant Chilumba, who in the past felt that a contract with a Zimbabwean club like Hwange or FC Platinum was a big step forward, can now coach in their homeland getting some rich pickings.”
Two years ago, Spanish giants Atletico Madrid became the latest heavyweight football team to sign a sponsorship deal with Chinese telecoms firm Huawei.
Arsenal, Paris St Germain, AC Milan, Borussia Dortmund, Shalke 04, Ajax Amsterdam and Galatasaray all have partnerships with Huawei.
A study conducted four years ago by the World Sponsorship Monitor showed that football attracted about $4,5 billion in global sponsorship, including Manchester United’s seven-year $659 million deal with General Motors.
Chiyangwa announced on Monday night, at a dinner held to honour the victorious Mighty Warriors, that they had found a corporate partner who will come in to bankroll the national teams.
The Herald, though, can reveal that the corporate partner is NetOne, who have been in the football trenches as a partner of the Premier Soccer League, but will now extend their portfolio to cover the national football teams.
Chiyangwa also revealed that ZIFA will not divorce their partner, Wicknell Chivayo, despite all the controversy that was sparked by reports that Warriors’ coach Callisto Pasuwa had not been paid for two months and the fallout between the businessman and some sections of the media.
“We have a partner who is coming to invest in football and invest in sport. Invest into our Warriors, invest into our Mighty Warriors and our Under-20,” said Chiyangwa.
“And such partner is a big partner. I think this week will be the time that we finalise these negotiations.
“Only after that do I mention who the partner is, but there is a big partner and we will announce this week.”
Although Chiyangwa did not divulge the identity of their new found sponsor, preferring to respect the commitment he made to them, we can reveal that the ZIFA boss has been speaking to NetOne and things are now at an advanced staged with another meeting, set to tie the loose ends, set for today.
Chiyangwa also addressed the issue of Chivayo. “We do obviously have another partner in the name of Wicknell Chivayo,” said Chiyangwa.
“He is not gone yet, he is still out there.
“Chivayo is still my partner even if people say what they say. If we look at the history of this gentleman, in terms of what he has done for our sport, I can’t ignore him. He is still our partner.”
There were reports last night that Telecel could also come in to pour funds into the Premier Soccer League, this year, first as sponsors of a major knockout tournament for the top-flight league.
“Things are happening and they are happening fast and there could be a lot of money coming into football very soon and this is just the start,” the sources said.
“There is a feeling that if football is given the right support, then it could scale new heights and the success of the Mighty Warriors could not have come at a better time while the Warriors are standing on good ground as they battle to qualify for the 2017 AFCON finals.
“Those thousands of fans who came to cheer the Warriors in their last match were a game-changer and opened the eyes of many executives that, even though things are tough on the economic front, they could tap into this market by becoming a partner of football.”