The Sunday News
Mehluli Sibanda, Senior Sports Reporter
IT is no secret that the country’s football giants, Highlanders as well as Dynamos are the cash cows for the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League with the two contributing heavily to the league’s coffers from gate takings during their home matches every season.
The two teams have been struggling over the last few years with the most recent time that Highlanders won the championship being in 2006, while Dynamos were last champions in 2014. Fans of the two teams have thus decided to stay at home in response to the poor display by the two sides.
Highlanders finished in fifth position on the 18-team log this year, which was somewhat satisfactory for a team that went on a rebuilding exercise while Dynamos had a terrible season. The Glamour Boys found the going tough and even faced relegation for the better part of the season with DeMbare eventually settling for 11th spot.
For Highlanders, 2018 marked a turnaround with their fans coming out in numbers for Bosso’s home matches at Barbourfields Stadium. A decision by the Highlanders leadership to bring back a former Bosso son, Madinda Ndlovu, with his mandate being to bring back the club’s culture, worked wonders, especially at the start of the season. While the attendance figures did dwindle towards the end of the season,
Highlanders still had the highest contribution to the PSL coffers in 2018.
It all started with the friendly matches which were well attended as Bosso fans were eager to see the kind of arsenal “Khathazile” was putting together for the 2018 season. Whatever the Highlanders fans saw, they were so impressed, judging by the crowds witnessed at Bosso’s home matches at the start of the season. The fans christened the 2018 Bosso side ECD because it was built around young players.
PSL chairman, Farai Jere said there was a significant increase in the number of fans who paid to watch the league’s matches in 2018, with the figure having gone up by 14 211.
“A total of 442 808 fans paid to watch the Castle Lager PSL matches this season, a significant increase from 428 597. We are confident that we will attract more fans in the upcoming season,’’ Jere said.
He attributed the rise in the attendance figures to the way Highlanders started the season, with thousands turning up for their league matches.
“The increase to the attendance figures was largely due to Highlanders, the way they started the season, their fans came out in their numbers,’’ he said.
Highlanders had 117 832 fans paying to watch their 17 home league matches, with the highest attendance being for the encounter with Dynamos on 9 September where 13 023 witnessed the clash between the country’s most followed teams do battle at Barbourfields. The second highest figure was 11 954 who watched Bosso take on Caps United on 20 May while 9 679 were spectators when Highlanders took on Shabanie Mine on 22 April.
With results eluding Bosso towards the end of the season, the numbers did go down. Against Yadah, 2 536 paid to watch the match, 3 829 was the number of fans for the Highlanders fixture with Bulawayo City, 3 820 were in attendance when Highlanders took on Harare City while 2 862 bothered to pitch up for the midweek fixture against champions FC Platinum, an encounter which marked the end of season for the two teams.