The Botswana Premier League (BPL) is expected to cover its nose from the stink over teams that have defaulted on licencing standards and just and just kick off the 2017/2018 season next weekend. The delinquent teams however have been given a two months ultimatum to regularize or face the BPL boot.
In December 2015 CAF licensing Committee members conducted a seminar for premier league teams and implored clubs to go the professional route. CAF committee member, Suzgo Nyirenda emphasized that requirements of club licensing were meant to develop the game in Africa and to help the clubs to be more competitive. He warned that teams that fail to meet the requirements should be kicked out of the league.
“It is either you are in or out” he warned. The teams were expected to have all complied by 1st August 2016. It has been a struggle with teams failing to meet the minimum requirements of club licensing.
First Instance Body (FIB) committee that was tasked with educating and evaluating clubs has reported that most premier league clubs have a lot to do before they can fully comply with the set standards. All the premier league teams are expected to have fully furnished offices with trained personnel, they are also expected to submit audited annual accounts; have lease contract with facility owners (stadia owners) before the season starts and have development sides. According to the club licensing requirement, the stadium used must have a media boot, first aid room and anti- doping rooms.
The FIB in their evaluation gave five teams full license after they were found to be 100% compliant with club licensing standards. They are Township Rollers, Orapa United, Security Systems, and Jwaneng Galaxy FC & Police XI.
FIB gave provisional A licenses to seven teams being Sankoyo Bushbucks, BDF XI, Gilport Lions, Tafic, Extension Gunners, Flamengo Santos and Gaborone United.
Miscellaneous, Sharps Shooting Stars, Mochudi Centre Chiefs and Black Forest were awarded provisional B license after scoring between 55% and 68%.
Provisional licenses were awarded to all clubs with shortcomings in critical areas such as audited financial reports, administrative and personnel and sporting criteria. The clubs were given a maximum of two months (31st October 2017) to have complied. Those that fail to meet the deadline will be kicked out of the elite league.
One club commentator who spoke on condition of anonymity said the club licensing issue is not relevant in amateur football like Botswana. “This is to over burden the already struggling clubs. Teams are expected to outgrow their standard” he observed. He said that the systems must be in place that will make it conducive for teams to adopt the new demands.
Jimmy George observed that football is in sorry state. “football in Botswana is in shambles we cannot expect the teams to be professional when the leadership is not. Even if standards were set at administration level, people would have failed. It is unfair to expect proper running of clubs when football leaders fault everyday” observed George. He further observed that teams lack resources and it is going to be difficult to meet the set standards when they struggle to run daily operations because of lack of money. “The sad reality with the teams is that they don’t have capacity because to have trained personnel it is another cost on top of the budget that they cannot meet” George.
He explains that there was need for the league to be valued to see if it is run properly or at a loss. He observed it must be known how much each team is getting from TV/radio broadcasting rights, gate-takings, sponsors, merchandise and other endorsements. “Currently nobody knows were teams are getting their money from and it should be known because they might fall into money laundering scams” George.
BPL acting Chief Executive Officer, Thabo Ntshinogang denied that there are teams that are not meeting the requirements of club licensing. Asked why the league will start when some clubs do not meet licensing standards, he said, “to my knowledge FIB has not declared any club which has failed compliance” Ntshinogang.
Club Licensing is an exercise sanctioned by FIFA and CAF to make sure that football is run as a business and to instill the virtues of ‘good’ governance in the day to day running of football teams.FIB was optimistic that clubs have shown a lot of commitment to the whole exercise, even though there were many challenges in areas like Finances, Administration and staffing.