GIANTS Highlanders and Dynamos have missed out on the opportunity to take part in this year's NetOne Charity Shield after they failed to make it among the top four in the sms voting process.
This year's competition features the four teams that garnered the most votes during the voting period in the last month and will see Monomotapa, CAPS United, Chicken Inn and FC Platinum playing in the semi-finals scheduled to begin at the weekend.
Winners will progress to the final on a date to be announced.
Monomotapa emerged the fans' favourite with 20 825 votes while CAPS United were second with 16 013 votes.
Chicken Inn took the third slot after receiving 15 558 votes and FC Platinum completed the top four teams with 11 585 votes to their credit.
In a rather shocking outcome, DeMbare finished fifth and Highlanders were sixth despite the two clubs' command of a huge fan base compared to any other team in the country.
For the first time in four years, Dynamos will miss the season-opening tournament and the voting apathy on the part of their fans could be linked to their standoff with the sponsors, who withheld their US$50 000 prize money last season, after clashing on kit branding.
The row also involved BancABC who are, ironically, also the principal sponsors of Highlanders.
DeMbare, who won the Charity Shield in the last three years, had made it clear that had they were not going to take part in the tournament even if they got the votes among the top four.
NetOne Cellular Corporate Brand Manager Rutendo Chabururuka said the results were verified by an independent auditor before they were released yesterday.
Chabururuka said the draw will be conducted at the official launch tomorrow where venues and dates for the final are also set to be revealed.
Organisers have indicated that they would want to spread the games across the country this year.
"It wasn't about the general expectations of the football community or the popularity of the clubs but it was all about how the fans voted.
"A club may have many supporters but if those fans didn't vote for their teams then that's it. The teams that get the most votes will play in the semi-finals,” said Chabururka.
Interestingly, Dynamos led the votes last Wednesday with Highlanders also in the top three but the figures had turned dramatically by Sunday afternoon with Monomotapa, CAPS United and FC Platinum taking the lead.
The voting, which began on March 8, closed at midnight on Sunday.
The sponsors this year moved away from the norm, which pitted the reigning league champions and winners of the major cup tournament, from the previous season, to a new criteria that involves a huge input from the supporters.
The fans were allowed to can cast unlimited votes for their teams
"There was an interesting trend on the last day (Sunday). All the while, votes were coming at a slow pace and we were actually shocked by how people suddenly started voting for their teams and how the overall table turned out,” said Chabururuka.
Newcomers Tripple B had the least votes as only 32 people voted for them while Harare City who appear a formidable outfit this season had 68 votes.
NetOne, who are in their third and final year of the sponsorship deal, have promised a bigger tournament this year.
They pumped in US$200 000 for the inaugural NetOne Charity Shield in 2011 and then increased the package to $250 000 last year.
The company's managing director, Reward Kangai, hinted at the launch of the voting platform that they were eager to extend the marriage with PSL.
NetOne voting results
Monomotapa 20 825
CAPS United 16 013
Chicken Inn 15 558
FC Platinum 11 585
Dynamos 10 275
Highlanders 8 080
Shabanie 1 406
Black Rhinos 206
Motor Action 195
How Mine 105
Harare City 68
Triple B 32