With the 2014/2015 premier soccer season expected to start next weekend, Mutare residents are angry they will miss out on the action as the Premier Soccer League has banned the use of Sakubva Stadium saying the pitch is dilapidated and not fit for top flight football.
The dressing rooms have also been criticized for being in a sorry state.
Sakubva Stadium is the home of the PSL army side, Buffaloes, and Mutare City Council-owned Division One side, City Rovers. Soccer lovers in the city now fear their premiership outfit will now play their first home matches outside Mutare as their favourite hunting ground faces possible sanctions for failing to maintain required standards.
They say this will have ripple effects, going down to ordinary poor residents who make a living from hawking at soccer matches.
The PSL technical committee has condemned the stadium, citing a number of reasons, among them, an uneven field, small changing rooms, and lack of security.
Mutare resident and soccer enthusiast, Clayton Masekesa, says weekends will not be the same in the absence of the big game in Sakubva.
Another resident, Councilor Crispen Dube, says the development reflects badly on the council which is failing to maintain the stadium and keep standards high.
The councilor says PSL’s Sakubva ban will also hit the council’s revenue base as it will lie idle for a while.
Sports journalist and soccer analyst, Raymond Gono, says while it is a sad development for Mutare residents and soccer fans that the stadium has been condemned, it is, in the long-run, a step in the right direction as standards will not be improved.
Gono says many visiting teams have often complained about the poor state of the stadium, the changing rooms and the dilapidated sanitary facilities.
Mutare City Council mayor, Tatenda Nhamarare, who is a staunch football supporter, says the local authority is working hard to ensure renovations start sometime in April.
The stadium is not only used for soccer matches but also other private and public functions, including musical concerts.
Buffaloes for now will have to seek an alternative venue for its home matches. Fans can only hope it won’t be for too long.