NFD clubs feeding off crumbs

2013-09-29 14:00

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Sharp drop in revenue and funding for first division clubs.

From R18?million to R4?million.

This is the price that Black Leopards and Chippa United paid for being relegated from the Absa Premiership to the National First Division (NFD) at the end of last season.

Premier Soccer League (PSL) clubs are guaranteed R1.5?million in monthlygrants before they net extra earnings in appearance fees in the Telkom Knockout and the Nedbank Cup.

This is in stark contrast to the R380?000 that NFD clubs receive in monthly grants.

A City Press survey found that running a club in the NFD costs between R7?million and R10?million in a single season.

The bulk of that goes to monthly salaries, which averages between R500?000 and R600?000 – at least for clubs that hope for promotion to the PSL.

“Relegation is not only a harsh lesson to the (club) owner but to the players as well,” said Leopards boss David Thidiela. “Life is tough in the NFD and it’s even tougher now that we lost the MTN sponsorship.

“Relegation means a loss of employment because the same players are the ones who get the lion’s share of the grant in the form of salaries. We had to start from scratch after we got relegated because we need players who take their job seriously.”

In contrast, United chairperson Siviwe “Chippa” Mpengesi said he felt relegation was a “relief” because the running cost in the PSL is actually heavy compared to NFD.

“In my PSL experience, you need a minimum of R3?million per month to keep afloat. But even without a sponsor, I could still survive because at least I’ve got six companies that each contribute a certain percentage to the running of the club,” he said.

Mpengesi said his club’s monthly salary bill is hovering at about R800?000 in the NFD as he had kept a core of the players that campaigned in the PSL.

United’s highest-paid player in the PSL was Benjani Mwaruwari, who pocketed R200?000 in nett monthly earnings.

“If you run a club and survive only on grants, then you are in trouble. Football is not an income-generating business,” said Mpengesi.

The only other time NFD clubs get extra earnings is when they qualify for the Nedbank Cup, which – apart from contesting for the grand prize of R6?million – pays R250?000 in participation fees and a consolation of R100?000 for reaching the last 32.

Progressing further in the competition betters the club’s financial position. This is if they reach the last four – like United did last season – and pocket R1?million.

United’s chief executive, Richard Makhoba, said: “Over and above the added financial incentives in the Nedbank Cup, our run gave the club good exposure.”

United lost in the last eight.

Makhoba said his club incurs about R7?million in operational costs in a season, including the club’s monthly salary bill. An example of some of the regular expenses would be:

»?A trip to Mthatha in Eastern Cape costs in the region of R180?000 for one night for a staff complement of more than 30. This includes flights, and car and bus rentals; and

»?A night match in Cape Town becomes even more expensive R200?000. The team would need

at least two nights’ stay if there are no return flights.

Dynamos owner Pat Malabela tasted the best and worst of both divisions after having his club promoted and relegated in their history.

He said: “One can’t say the (NFD) grant is enough to run the club if you were to invest in quality players. When we got promoted, we stayed for four seasons in the top flight because we had a good structure in place.

“The PSL should invest in the NFD because the lower division is the breeding ground where most of the PSL clubs shop for players.”

Dynamos was among the clubs that were accused by the players’ union of not paying their players on time.

Some clubs, such as FC AK, ended up with garnishment orders for failing to pay their players and had their grants attached because of outstanding salaries.

The recent sale of Roses United – who gained promotion to the NFD two seasons ago – happened amid a players’ strike over unpaid salaries.

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