Botswana Football Association (BFA) is locked in protracted negotiations with the Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) and Mascom Wireless to resolve the impasse over the branding at the National Stadium.
The association is caught in between a ‘battle of egos’ involving two of its biggest partners, Top 8 sponsors Mascom Wireless and league sponsors Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited (BTCL), both fighting for supremacy space in local football.
At the heart of the current impasse is the Mascom Wireless branding which adorns the parameters of the National Stadium’s eastern stands, popularly known as ‘Panda’ among local football diehards.
The furore has literally ‘shut out’ the Botswana Premier League (BPL) from using the venue for BTC Premiership league matches.
Ever since the Mochudi Centre Chiefs and Township Rollers match in late October last year (2017), no premiership league match has been hosted at the National Stadium as Mascom Wireless is alleged to be ‘refusing to let their branding at the venue to be covered without proper compensation.’
“We have met with the Botswana National Sports Commission and informed that we request a clean stadium for our BTCL Premiership games and negotiations are still ongoing,” BFA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mfolo Mfolo told Sunday Standard in an interview.
Mfolo said while negotiations are taking long, they are hopeful they will soon find a solution that will appease all the concerned parties.
He however said there are at least two sticking issues that will need to be resolved before any agreement is reached, being the protection of the Mascom branding as well as compensation for opportunity cost to Mascom.
“As you know, the Mascom branding was previously covered during the games. However, during negotiations, the officer in charge of branding at the National Stadium informed us that the material previously used to cover the branding was actually destroying the signage,” he explained.
“Now, our task, together with the officer, is to try and source a quality cover, preferably a cloth, which cannot scrape the signage,” he added.
Mfolo said once they have sourced the suitable cover for the branding, they will then have to tackle the issue of compensation due to Mascom for opportunity cost.
“During our interactions, Mascom has raised the issue of remuneration for covering their branding during games. However, we have not yet got to that stage in negotiations,” he explained.
On the allegations that BFA may be siding with BTCL at the expense of Mascom, Mfolo said the association values all its partners and that they have strong relationships with them.
“The predicament that we found ourselves in here was that the top 8 stretched over a period of time more or less like the league title sponsor and we needed to correct that. We have talked to Mascom and they understood, no hard feelings,” said Mfolo.
On the apparent rivalry between Mascom and BTCL that is threatening to derail football, the BFA CEO said the association needs to work hard to ensure that their main sponsors can coexist.
Though Mfolo admitted that the problem of rivalry of branding in local football is unique to Botswana football and difficult to resolve, he however said the association will continue to seek amicable solutions.