Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Curtains down for Mascom Top 8

Over the past nine seasons, Mascom Top 8 tournament has given football lovers something no other tournament had. Flair, drama, controversy and top-notch entertainment.

Who can forget those catchy phrases such as ‘Re Ja 1 metre,’ and ‘Tse Di Tona’ to ‘1 meter for what? Re ja 1.2 Meter,’ made famous by the then Chief Executive Officer Jose Cuceiro? Or that made for television moment when the then Centre Chiefs’ manager Zaid Jalal took the money out of a briefcase and counted it on live television to register a protest against Rollers?

These moments, among many, are some of the memories that will linger longer in the memory of football lovers as curtains come down on what was by far the richest football tournament in the country. Today, August 13 2022, Mascom Wireless confirmed it was cutting ties with the Botswana Football League (BFL).

“Mascom regrets to inform all stakeholders that we will not be hosting this year’s edition of the Mascom Top 8,” Communication and Public Relations Manager, Barbara Gotlop Gotlop wrote in a press release.

In the said press statement, Gotlop indicated that the decision ‘was due to an outcome of the challenges to business fundamentals, due in large part to the current socio-economic climate which has resulted in financial constraints and not allowing the network to commit the resources necessary for a successful delivery of the Mascom Top 8.’

The press release came a day after BFL chief executive officer Solomon Ramochotlhwane denied any knowledge of the imminent departure of Mascom.  “We have long finished our talks with Mascom in February and what I do know is that we will have the Top 8 this coming season,” he said.

When reached for comment immediately thereafter, Mascom Wireless chief communications and public relations officer Tebogo Lebotse-Sebego, who was seemingly caught off-guard, requested for a written questionnaire.

In the questionnaire, Sunday Standard had sought to know if it was indeed true the company had pulled out of Top 8 tournament. It also sought to know the reasons for such withdrawal. A day later on Saturday, the company then released a press statement confirming it had indeed pulled out of sponsoring the Top 8 tournament.

While Mascom pointed to ‘challenges to business fundamentals’ and ‘financial constraints,’ Sunday Standard has been reliably informed these were not the only variables.

Relationship between Mascom and Botswana Football Association (BFA) are said to have soured ever since the latter put Mascom on the backburner to protect the BTC league sponsorship. As a result of this, the Mascom Top 8 tournament duration was reduced to just 3 months to ensure ‘the cup tournament does not compete with the league.’

Things are also said to have been complicated by the BFL’s hard line stance during recent negotiations. According to sources, Mascom had proposed a reduced sponsorship from previous years due to financial constraints but the BFL dug its heels and held on for the same amounts as previous sponsorships. In the end, the network provider chose to cut ties at it felt it could not continue with the tournament anymore.


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