Saturday, September 23, 2023

A slim BPL not the way to go

Botswana Football Association (BFA)’s plan to reduce Botswana Premier League (BPL) teams is not widely welcomed by some within the game.

The 16 premier league teams are destined to be reduced to twelve (12) like in the era of super league. The reason is because the BFA wants to make it more economic and competitive.

Football commentator, Aupa Mokotedi, does not see the need and necessity to reduce the premier league teams to 12.

“The push to reduce the number of clubs in the premier division has been going on for decades. In fact, previously, it was proposed that the number should be cut to 10. There has always been a strong counter argument against this move. It is quite ironic that the issue has resurfaced. My view is that, the counter argument is still very valid and strong,” he opines.

Mokotedi observes that since the number of clubs were increased from 12 to 16, “we witnessed phenomenal growth of football in the country. Previously, premier football was an exclusive preserve for urban and peri-urban areas. Now we easily get teams from far flung areas like Maun, Sua town, Serowe, Palapye, Mahalapye and other places.”

He further advises that the administrators should also look into the fact that Botswana is a sparsely populated country. “The 16-team stream is actually very good in a sense that, Botswana is a vast country and the population is sparsely distributed. A bigger size league ensured that people would have access. Now with a small league, we can be assured that football returns to be an exclusive preserve for urbanites,” he argues.

According to him, the move will likely see Botswana football losing further ground to competitive foreign leagues like South Africa’s Premier Soccer League (PSL), English Premier League (EPL), Italian Serie A, Spanish La Liga and others because football will only be enjoyed in Gaborone, Francistown and Selebi-Phikwe.

“This will certainly guarantee the loss of local spectators to easily accessible leagues which come to our phones and living rooms,” Mokotedi says.

Commenting on condition of anonymity, one football commentator said, “BFA is no longer supporting the efforts being made by community teams. We all come from different villages where we have attachment to our local teams not the ones we support because we work in the mines or in the army.”

He further says they will be lobbying for support to stop the move to reduce the teams. He concurred with Mokotedi that teams from small villages like Mankgodi and Sankoyo will never again dream of seeing their teams playing in the elite league.

The issue is also expected to be a hot potato at the upcoming BFA general assembly.


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