The Castle Lager Premier League roars to life, with some mouth-watering fixtures lined up for this weekend.
The Premier Soccer League has also promised to safeguard chief sponsor Delta Corporation’s image this season, through a range of measures including eliminating hooliganism.
Delta Corporation through its Castle Lager brand has been sponsoring the PSL since 2011. They recently inked a new three-year sponsorship deal worth $5,5 million.
The giant beverages manufacturer will sponsor local football until 2019, with $3,5 million going directly into the game. Apart from the direct sponsorship, Delta will also provide an additional $2 million to the game through advertising and promotions.
Delta has gone beyond simply using the Castle Lager brand endorser as a platform for displaying its logo, looking further to align itself with the competition, its teams and their players.
The sponsor has maintained its annual budget of $700 000 for the league championship and $400 000 for the Chibuku Super Cup.
With “social media backlashes” now commonplace, brand owners are becoming increasingly cautious on what they sponsor.
In football sponsorship, conduct on and off the pitch can severely impact a company’s return on investment.
PSL chairman Kenny Mubaiwa says their relationship with Delta will continue to be a mutually beneficial arrangement.
“We are going into a new season and we will try at all costs to protect the brand of our sponsors. Their sponsorship is remarkable‚ especially in this tough economic climate and we want to assure them that the Castle Lager brand is in safe hands,” said Mubaiwa.
“We do not take that (sponsorship) for granted. As PSL, we have tabled a number of activities including training of club security marshals in a bid to combat hooliganism.
“There are other steps we have taken to ensure that the brand retains as much control as possible during the relationship until next year.
“As the PSL board of governors and administrators, we will make sure there is transparency in the manner in which we will handle our day to day office work including our financial books, our level of professionalism and organisation streaming down to clubs.”
Violence, primarily arising from poor officiating, has in the past adversely affected the relationship between Delta and the PSL.
There have been a number of cases where high profile athletes and organisations have been publicly dropped by their sponsors for not toeing the agreed line.
For instance, top global sports brand Nike have in the past suspended Russian tennis star, Maria Sharapova while Adidas and Nestlé ended their relationship with the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) following doping allegations.
Boxer Manny Pacquiao also had his endorsement with Nike terminated following his homophobic slurs.
Back home, at the end of the 2016, the football mother board, ZIFA and its affiliate PSL, were embroiled in fierce fight in the relegation/promotion impasse resulting in Delta threatening to withhold its sponsorship so as to protect its brand.
Mubaiwa said they will work hard to ensure rules are followed this season, and consequently reduce fights.
“It’s a thing of the past. We learn from such mistakes. Our partnership with Delta through their Castle Lager brand must have common goals that glue them.
“We want to develop the sport and achieve our mandate,” explained Mubaiwa.
The 2018 Castle Lager Premiership season will see 18 teams battling for the $100 000 winners cheque.
Matches kick-off on Saturday, with an eye-catching fixture between defending league champions FC Platinum and ZPC Kariba pencilled for the National Sports Stadium.
Delta Corporation marketing director Maxen Karombo said Castle Lager stands to bring people together and creating friendships and they anticipate high levels of professionalism with all stakeholders involved.
“It is the publicity from the games and the stronger relationships with key business stakeholders, including the Government that keep them going
“The emotion in soccer in driving this passion explains the logical tie in with Castle Lager.
“The brand equity growth mainly, and the happiness in bringing the two things Zimbabweans enjoy together — a cold Castle and a good game,” he said.
Castle Lager Premier
Soccer League matchday one fixtures
Saturday 17th March 2018
Bulawayo City FC vs Chapungu FC Luveve Stadium 1500hrs.
Ngezi Platinum FC vs Herentals FC Baobab Stadium 1500hrs.
ZPC Kariba FC vs FC Platinum FC National Sports Stadium 1500hrs.
Nichrut FC vs Mutare City FC Mandava Stadium 1500hrs.
Yadah FC vs Bulawayo Chiefs FC Rufaro Stadium 1500hrs.
Chicken Inn FC vs Dynamos FC Barbourfields Stadium 1500hrs.
Sunday 18th March 2018
Highlanders FC vs Black Rhinos FC Barbourfields Stadium 1500hrs.
Shabanie Mine FC vs Triangle United FC Mandava Stadium 1500hrs.
Caps United FC vs Harare City FC National Sports Stadium 1500hrs.