Tuesday, October 27, 2020

BPL flashes red card to whistlemen

Referees doing duty in Botswana’s elite Premier League are likely to be the first casualties as the Botswana Premier League (BPL) tightens its financial belt.

In the wake of a season that saw the BPL go P2 million in the red, the BPL is said to have decided to cut costs, and an eye has been cast towards the referees as a place to start from. The latest development comes as rumours have been making the rounds that referees in the BPL are owed hundreds of thousands of Pula.

According to a source close to the BPL Board, the decision to cut costs comes as the BPL feels the referees are taking a huge chunk of funds from the coffers of the BPL. Apart from having their accommodation and transport bills footed by the BPL, it is said that the match officials are paid at least P800 for every game they officiate in during the league season.

“They (BPL) are saying the monies paid to referees to officiate in matches are very high and unsustainable. They want the money to be reconsidered and possibly cut. They also want the referees to pay for their own accommodation and transport while attending official Premier League games,” a source revealed.

While the issue of expenditure on referees has been mooted, a source close to the BPL Board has revealed that the issue has been discussed at length and is finding favour in the eyes of the majority of the BPL Board members.

“While we sometimes differ as the BPL Board, the issue of expenditure on referees is one where the majority of us are in agreement. All the arrangements that have been put in place for referees have taken a lot of the BPL monies. The idea to cut expenditures is just one of the many ideas we are discussing at the BPL Board as we try to tighten expenditures and stop the BPL from going under,” the source revealed.

The idea, however, is said to have not gone down well with the referees and a stalemate is said to be looming. According to the source, the issue was at the heart of discussions between the Botswana Football Association (BFA) leadership, the Referees’ Commission and the referees this past Friday. It is alleged that when the football leadership put the ideas forward for discussion, the referees were not happy.

“During the meeting, the referees told the BFA leadership and the referees’ commission they are in no position to incur the costs of accommodation and transport. They feel that the leadership now wants them to run the league using their own resources and they are opposed to the idea,” the source said. With neither side compromising, the leadership is said to have informed the referees to go mull over the proposal and come up with other ideas on how the two sides can work together going forward.

“They were informed that they will have to attend another meeting on Monday at which they will have to inform the leadership of their position. The leadership, through BFA Vice President Marshlow Motlogelwa also informed them that they (referees) will be paid their monies. They, however, did not give them a time frame as to when they will be paid,” the source revealed.

Sunday Standard, however, could not get an official response from the BFA leadership at the time of going to press as the Acting BFA CEO Benny Kgomela’s number went unanswered.

Meanwhile, acting BPL CEO Thabo Ntshinogang confirmed that negotiations were ongoing to find solutions to the referees’ conundrum. He, however, could not delve into details nor disclose how much the referees were owed.

Ntshinogang expressed optimism that by the time the league starts, the issue of referees would have been resolved.

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The Telegraph October 28

Digital edition of The Telegraph, October 28, 2020.