Rayon left to pick up own pieces of damage

Having finished third in the recently concluded MTN-Peace Cup, Rayon Sport players must be having a smile on their faces after the team pocketed Rwf.2.5 million as prize money.
Rayon Sport have the largest fan base in the country but that has not stopped the club from financial crises every season. The New Times / File.
Rayon Sport have the largest fan base in the country but that has not stopped the club from financial crises every season. The New Times / File.

Having finished third in the recently concluded MTN-Peace Cup, Rayon Sport players must be having a smile on their faces after the team pocketed Rwf.2.5 million as prize money.

The financial worry was eased, at least for a day or so; however, what remains the biggest and most important issue for the club bosses is whether they can afford to hire a similar or better coach than Jean Marie Ntagwabira.

Ntagwabira resigned his post as the Blues coach last week after a turbulent one year in charge. However his departure will be remembered more for his revelations of his involvement in match-fixing during his time as Kiyovu coach in 2009 more than anything else.

Now that he has arched his boat, will the drama continue to unfold at the country’s most supported football club? It’s most likely than not.

It all started, when Albert Rudatsimburwa waved a reluctant goodbye to Rayon, the club he left with a confusing mixture of gratitude and relief for the work he tried to do but couldn’t!

The club has, over the years, a burden to pay players’ salaries because of lack of steady funding sources to uphold their commitments which has led to poor performance in both the Primus league and the MTN Peace-Cup.

This is a big issue that will most likely continue to echo on as the club is left to pick its own pieces of damage going into next season.

After the exit of the Contact FM proprietor, the financial pain got worse and players went for up to three months without pay, a fact that led to missed training sessions at various intervals during the last campaign.  

On more than three occasions, players were not smiling but had angry looks on their faces because their wage concern was not being addressed. Even recently, some players almost snubbed the Peace-Cup semi-final second leg game against APR because of the clubs failure to meet the outstanding arrears.

How long will it take Rayon to find a lasting solution to what has become a perennial problem?

Rayon fans would tell you that Rudatsimburwa, like all the others before him, preached wine and gave them water. They would tell you. Like any evangelical preacher in the metropolitan, who makes much of the fact that he used to run a stable! But it is much better now thanks to the love of our Lord Jesus.

In March this year, when previous deadlines were breached, players increasingly became concerned, turning into donkeys on the final stretch of the beach.

The club management promised players that their full salaries would be lodged in their bank accounts every end of the month, easier to say than done. It was all hot air.

The recent step by club management to form an investment company is an excellent move, if put in practice.  The administration launched the “Rayon Investment group” to help them hop out of the financial crises.

Amplified as ever, the club Secretary General Olivier Gakwaya said, “Our crisis is very manageable. And we believe in this project. The club and its members will achieve their goal.” Well, it all seems too good to be true.

Rudatsimburwa exposed himself as an untrustworthy owner, who failed to meet the parachute payments and wage bill.

Interestingly, in their drawn match against Police FC towards the end of the season, Rayon almost had the game won, when they went 2-0 up and outplayed their opponents despite the fact that Ntagwabira had almost no viable subs to turn to. The game ended 2-2.

Supporters started to point the finger at absentee players. They had put their souls in the hands of Rudatsimburwa’s ill-fated spell as club chairman (sic owner).

In the 120 minutes MTN- Peace –Cup game against AS Kigali to determine third place, Rayon won on penalties, but this time without Ntagwabira, who was said to be unwell. Rayon struggled to achieve a win against the stubborn opponents.

Nonetheless, amidst the financial chaos, Rayon will continue to be a big force in Rwandan football; actually Rwandan football is synonymous with Rayon and vice-versa.

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