The Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) has banned Ascot stadium from hosting Castle Premier Soccer league matches forcing Chapungu and the just promoted TelOne side to resort to Mandava grounds after it failed to match the set standards.
Gweru City Council which is the owners of Ascot stadium have been given a time frame to rehabilitate facilities which include VIP stands, doping room, lady referee room, media stands and expansion of exchanging rooms.
GCC Public relations officer Manford Gambiza said the rehabilitation of Ascot Stadium has been influenced by CAF and ZIFA in an effort to meet the standards of the Castle Premier Soccer league this season.
“The plan to refurbish Ascot stadium popularly known as “Kugomba” is part of efforts to upgrade to Castle Premier Soccer league standards. It is not that we have decided now to rehabilitate the stadium but it was an on-going process to make sure our local teams such as Telone and Chapungu play at their fortresses.
“The issue of rehabilitation of the stadium has always been provided for in previous council budget meetings but the programme could not take off due to lack of funding. ZIFA has given us a temporary ban from hosting PSL matches but if we finish in time they will allow us to host matches this season,” he said.
Gambiza said council has budgeted $300,000 towards the Ascot stadium project, which will be allocated at different intervals owing to the economic environment until the refurbishment process is complete.
“Council has budgeted $300,000 towards Ascot stadium and the treasury department will allocate funds for the programme on different time frames due to the economic environment. We will provide a modern facelift since the bills of quantities have been done with the technical staff and they are already constructing the infrastructure.
“We are going to refurbish 2 VIP stands, 2 VIP toilets, cludded tunnel, general stands, media stands and doping rooms,” he said.
According to a memo copied to Premier Soccer League stakeholders by Zifa, there are only nine approved stadiums namely Rufaro, Nations Sports Stadium, Barboufields, Luveve, Colliery, Gibbo, Nyamhunga, Mandava and Baobab leaving a number of clubs traveling long distances for matches.
Manica Diamonds will have to resort to either Gibbo in Tringale or Rufaro and NSS in Harare after their options Sakubva and Vengere were also deemed unfit to host topflight matches.
While this is a blow to the teams with stadia that have been condemned, it is also a disadvantage to travelling teams as they will be forced to cover another distance, should their opponents be moved to the other direction from their base.