Zimbabwean football giants Highlanders are beginning to feel the financial pinch of Covid-19 after failing to pay April salaries on time.
The club’s salaries come from its principal sponsor, mobile operator NetOne, whose priorities have seemingly shifted as Zimbabwe battles to combat the spread of Covid-19. The company, which jointly donated R10 million towards the fight against Covid-19, has given the Bulawayo giants three months’ notice of termination of their contract.
The setback means the club will only receive financial backing until the end of July.
“NetOne are terminating the sponsorship, they have given Highlanders a three months’ notice of termination, according to the contract,’’ a source said.
The club’s spokesperson, Ronald Moyo referred all questions to the sponsor when asked about the issue. NetOne and Highlanders initially signed a one-year deal in 2018 before renewing it for three years.
Highlanders’ nomadic coach Mark Harrison, pictured below, who has coached three South African clubs, will, however, not be affected by the NetOne setback. The club accepted an offer from a group of members and supporters to pay the technical manager on their behalf.
Nonetheless, the former Mpumalanga Black Aces, Golden Arrows and Chippa United gaffer may have to take a pay cut, at least, until football activities resume.
Highlanders chairman, Kenneth Mhlophe confirmed to Sunday News they had engaged their sponsors and Harrison.
“It’s a difficult period for everyone and we have not been spared by the effects of Covid-19 as the halting of the football season affected us. We are continually engaging our sponsors as we try to see how we can come out of this in the best condition.
“Salary cuts are taking place all over the world, with top clubs in Europe implementing them as a survival strategy so we are also looking at what we can do in order to ensure the survival of the club during these trying times,” he said.
The Zimbabwe Premiership season traditionally runs from March to October but is yet to kick off following measures implemented by Government in the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic.
RELATED STORY: Harrison joins Zim side Highlanders
By Busisani Ncube