NETONE has once again committed to bankroll the Premier Soccer League (PSL) season opener, NetOne Charity Shield, Standardsport can reveal.
BY BRIAN NKIWANE
The network provider whose three-year contract with PSL expired last year after a fruitful term, has indicated that it is on the verge of clinching yet another deal with the local football governing body.
Sources privy to inside information at NetOne said the two parties, NetOne and PSL, will be signing another three-year deal soon.
The sources said the two parties have already agreed on a number of issues that include match dates as well as the qualification criteria for this year’s edition.
“To show how serious they are, they have already agreed on the teams that will participate in this year’s edition, as well as the dates that the matches will be played. All the matches will be played on the weekend of March 1 and 2,” the source said.
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Asked about the imminent deal, PSL chief executive officer Kenny Ndebele directed all questions to the sponsors but chose to comment on the criteria.
“I can confirm that the qualification criteria for the season opener has changed from last year as has been the norm yearly. This time around, only the top four teams: Dynamos, Highlanders, Harare City and FC Platinum, are going to participate in the tournament. This is what the board of governors agreed in one of our many meetings,” Ndebele said.
Neither Ndebele nor the sponsors were at liberty to reveal the total package for this year’s edition.
“As I have already indicated, we have not finalised the deal, so we are still negotiating other issues like the total package, the criteria in which teams will be drawn and the venues to be used,” added Ndebele.
Since its inception three years ago, qualification to take part in the tournament has been changing.
In 2011, league champions Motor Action played Cup competitions winners Dynamos.
The Glamour Boys won the match after a penalty shoot-out following a 2-2 regulation time draw.
In 2012 champions Dynamos played Motor Action, who were the country’s representatives in the Cup Winners Cup competition.
The match was marred by misunderstandings over contractual agreements and kit branding which saw DeMbare losing out on the Charity Shield loot after emerging winners.
The prize money was withheld by NetOne as the Glamour Boys had played with kits that did not have the tournament sponsor’s logo.
In 2013 the fans voting system which saw big clubs like Dynamos and Highlanders missing from the competition was introduced.
Once again, the system is set to change this year with top four teams set to square off.