The newly branded Botswana elite football league, the BTC premiership league is destined to start despite last season’s problems still yet to be resolved.
Among issues yet to be resolved is payment of the teams’ monthly grants, the crowning of league champions and payments of their remaining prize monies as well as payment of monies owed to match officials.
In what was a watershed moment for Botswana’s elite football, the league turned into a mini circus following the failure of the Botswana Premier League (BPL) office’s failure to pay the teams their monthly grants. The grants were not paid as the money was used on other administrative duties. The fallout from the unpaid grants led to the suspension of BPL Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Bennett Mamelodi.
As if that was not enough, more trouble followed as eventual champions Township Rollers were docked ten points for fielding ‘a defaulter.’ This led to another crisis which delayed the crowning of league champions. The problem was however resolved when a replay was ordered between Rollers and Mochudi Centre Chiefs to decide the championship impasse.
Despite all the unresolved issues, the Botswana football Association (BFA) CEO, Kitso Kemoeng is optimistic that the league will start on Saturday as planned. “We are hopeful the league will start as planned” Kemoeng said.
According to the BFA CEO, the football leadership is working around the clock to ensure all issues are resolved before this weekend’s planned league kickoff.
Asked if the teams will get their grants before the league kicks off, Kemoeng said it the position of BFA, but added they were still engaging with the sponsor.
“The meeting was staged last week during my absence and further meetings are to be staged,” he said. The failure to pay teams their monthly grants is said to have put doubts as to how some teams, more especially the newly promoted ones will cope as they have no alternative sources of income.
Regarding Rollers, Kemoeng had this to say, “Rollers have been declared champions. Housekeeping matters around that are being concluded.”
He explained that the prize money lies with the sponsor and there are some ‘bits and pieces that need to be concluded first.’
Commenting on the issues with referees, Kemoeng said they are working to find an amicable solution. “The engagement between the BFA and the referees’ commission is continuing today (Monday) and we are hoping that the issues will be resolved amicably,” Kemoeng explained.
He said as an association, they are sincere in finding solution to the problems surrounding match officials. According to information reaching this publication, the BFA is planning to cut the match fees and also want the referees to use their own cars to travel around the country officiating. The match officials are also expected to find their own accommodation when assigned outside the station.
The latest development has aroused fear from some quarters that the change in the welfare of referees will trigger ethical issues.
It is believe the changes will make referees vulnerable and team’s officials may easily buy them to favour them in matches. The teams may also indirectly sponsor some trips which referees are to take.
Asked if it was not ideal to pay and solve all the pending issues before the league start he said “if we are to postpone it the league will not start.”
He said the past season has issues.
“There are few things that need to be reflected on,” he concluded.