Zambia: The Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) took the final step in the actualization of the Zambian Premier League (ZPL) with the delinking of the professional league from the Association.
FAZ president Andrew Kamanga says the journey had been gradual but will continue to see out the process to its ideal status.
Under the new set up, the ZPL will have management rights to operate independently, while FAZ will focus on the national teams and development leagues.
And SuperSport Africa Thabo Ngobeni says SuperSport was engaging Zambian clubs over the delinking of the league to help them explore the opportunities available in the historic move.
Speaking during the caucus that saw SuperSport Africa, FAZ and the 18 Super League teams converge at Golden Peacock Hotel to interrogate the implications of the delinking.
“Today’s event comes on the back of a historic development in our game which is the delinking of the Premier League from the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ). This is a process that the Zambian game has long trodden, but we are happy that we are building from the lessons of history,” Kamanga said.
“Our engagement with SuperSport is meant to acquaint our membership with the modus operandi of the new structure. I must state from the outset that this is not a divorce but a partnership that promises to elevate our game to the next level.”
The FAZ boss said that the delinking had no reason to fail, having drawn from previous attempts in the history of the Zambian game.
“Many developed football nations have embraced this model. We have been down this road before as far back as 1962 when the Northern Rhodesia National Football League (NRFL) was officially launched. The experiment, however, was halted in 1974 when the government dissolved it. The merry-go-round continued with the restructured league back on stream in 1982.”
He added: “The examples highlighted just show how troubled this path has been. Zambia was back in 2009 through the well-known Chisamba declaration that birthed the process we are launching today. I am happy to see some of the pioneers of the delinking process that will also be part of the Zambian Premier League. I can see the FAZ vice president, Dr Justin Mumba, the ZPL board chairman, Kephas Katongo and the Lusaka Province Chairperson, Jordan Maliti. I see a lot more faces in the audience who have been part of this journey.”
Kamanga said, “As the Football Association of Zambia, we will retain the overall superintendent role over football in the country with the ZPL given appropriate management rights as it operates independently. Under the new set-up, FAZ will focus on developmental programmes through all national teams, women’s football, and grassroots.”
Meanwhile, SuperSport Senior Commercial Manager Thando Bakumeni said SuperSport Africa valued its partnership with the Zambian market and was looking forward to more partnerships.
“We are one of the biggest and most trusted brands and would be glad to have you as partners,” he said.
And ZPL board chairperson Kephas Katongo said the delinking of the league was a watershed moment.
“We aim to create passive income for clubs through innovative ideas we shall always bring to your face over and above the current financial support. We intend to be strong on capacity building and are already in discussion with an entity for the provision of a sports diploma for ZPL administrators. ”
Furthermore, fan engagement remains a pedestrian for most clubs, and this is an area we shall endeavour to grow, especially among millennials that are currently not a feature at most games,” said Kamanga.
The delinking of the current league started in 2009 when clubs met under the auspices of a FIFA project in Chisamba. However, FAZ dithered to implement the recommendations that the clubs adopted but in 2021, the Kamanga executive took the bold to amend the constitution and provide for the accommodation of the ZPL.
Since the amendment of the constitution, FAZ went about implementing the de-linkage, which has since hit full flight.
The ZPL has already established its own offices within the Football House under Joseph Chimpampwe, who is the chief executive officer heading a secretariat.