The Sunday News
Mehluli Sibanda, Senior Sports Reporter
HIGHLANDERS could play their first two home league matches at Barbourfields Stadium for free when the season eventually starts if the Bulawayo City Council’s finance and development sub-committee has its way.
Full council sits on Wednesday and one of the issues to deliberated upon is a recommendation by the council’s finance and development committee for Highlanders to be allowed to play two home games at Barbourfields without paying any hire fee to the local authority.
Should council give the green light to that proposal, Highlanders stand to potentially gain ZWL$132 570 that is 15 percent that goes to council in two matches when Emagumeni is full to capacity and the fans are paying $20 each.
Highlanders chief executive officer Nhlanhla Dube wrote to the City of Bulawayo requesting assistance in coming up with funds and resources amid the crisis brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. Highlanders lost their main sponsor NetOne who chose to refocus their corporate social responsibility towards fighting Covid-19.
Dube, in his communication to the council expressed fears that the problems brought about by the loss of a sponsor might result in the collapse of the club with players and workers dumping Amahlolanyama.
“We therefore, appeal to the city fathers through your good office for assistance in mobilising funds and resources for the upkeep of the club during this crisis. Our annual football budget is ZWD7 000 000 of which ZWD3 000 000 is for salaries and upkeep of players and staff. It is the salaries component that presents us with an immediate and critical need and for which we seek urgent assistance,’’ wrote Dube.
According to documents at hand, Highlanders owe the council $156 362,81 for its various properties in the city, which include the club’s offices, clubhouse and camping house in Luveve.
Sikhangele Zhou, the chamber secretary indicated that she has no objections to Highlanders being allowed to play two home matches for free at Barbourfields Stadium to assist Bosso recover from the after effects of Covid-19 as that assistance would not hurt the local authority’s finances in such a massive way. Her department’s view, however, is that all Bulawayo teams should be allowed a game for free each as relief and that the assistance should not be extended to Highlanders only.