Tuesday, December 5, 2023

BFL Board Chairmanship … Who will take the poisoned goblet?

The Botswana Football League (BFL) is a poisoned chalice.

Any one bold or naïve enough to gobble from it suffers.

The immediate past BFL Board of Directors chairman Aryl Ralebala seems to have realised this sooner than expected.

Barely six months after being elected to lead the Board of Directors of the then newly established BFL, the Masitaoka financier has unceremoniously departed. He resigned from the post a week ago leaving the reins temporarily in the hands of Jwaneng Galaxy’s Njabulo Gilika.

BFL chief executive officer (CEO) Solomon Ramochotlhwane confirmed the news and said an emergency shareholders meeting will be called soon and a new Board Chairman will then be appointed.

An astute and credible businessman, Ralebala had taken the reins after a well-orchestrated plot to unseat the then interim chairman and Township Rollers financier Jagdish Shah.

The latter, having got wind of the plot to embarrass him, opted not to stand for elections against Ralebala, who sources says had the backing of the Botswana Football Association (BFA) as well as one of Shah’s rivals and well known and controversial football financier.

“What Ralebala did not understand at the time was that he was seen as someone who was wet behind in terms of football administration and thus could be easily controlled,” a source says.

It however seems like those who put Ralebala at the helm had underestimated him. A well moneyed man himself, the Masikaoka FC financier is apparently a fiercely independent man and is by no means a pushover. He refused to be a puppet in the strings of another man, and from then on, arrows were pointed at him.

“A game of sabotage then started and things got out of hand. Some potential sponsors were affected and they pulled out. Not keen to have his reputation dragged on the mud, Ralebala, who is Lubricants Supplies Botswana (LSB) Group Chairman opted to resign,” the source explained.

The source, who is very close to the BFL went on to add that the Masitaoka FC financier was ‘actually very relieved’ to have resigned from the BFL Board. “He acknowledges that he was very naïve when he took the post and he now knows he was just being used to get rid of Shah,” the source said.

According to the source, the shareholder who orchestrated Ralebala’s incoming and departure is now at work trying to find a potential replacement, but ‘none of the shareholders seems keen to take the poisoned goblet and drink of it.’ He said a couple of shareholders have already been sounded out but none has taken the bait.

Concerning the upcoming BFL shareholders emergency meeting, he said it only goes to show the hypocrisy that is rife within local football. “A week ago, they were not keen to attend an emergency meeting to talk about the start of the league but now they have agreed to attend another one because it is of their own interests. This is hypocrisy.”

Asked to comment on how the departure of Ralebala would affect the planned start of the league, BFL CEO Ramochotlhwane said he believes ball will be played on the 22nd of this month of October as scheduled with a game between Township Rollers and Extension Gunners.

The BFL CEO was however not at liberty to discuss sponsorships as the issue was yet to be discussed with shareholders. This he said came as the last meeting which had been called to discuss the matter was cancelled.

Commenting on the matter, football administrator Bathusi Rathari said he was not surprised at the turn of events at the BFL. He said from the onset, the BFL Board of Directors was not set to offset the interest of shareholders.

“Normally when you compose a Board of Directors, you need to have a good mix of Executive and Non-Executive members. The executive members are picked from the shareholders while the non-executive members are independent,” he explained.

He said this is done on the understanding that while the Executive Board members look out for their interests most of the time, the non-executive members, who are neutral, look out for the best interests of the company and all the shareholders. “This is a polar opposite of what we see at the BFL where the Executive members make the majority of board members,” he added.

Rathari said given the current happenings at the BFL, he would be surprised if anyone among the shareholders would be keen to be appointed as Board chairman, adding that the BFL has completed its full complement of credible people to lead the board.

“If the status quo remains as is, I am afraid we will continue to see the same thing happening over and over again. We won’t be going anywhere anytime soon,” he concluded.


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