Sunday, April 21, 2024

Did Mascom pull the rug under BFL?

Last week’s announcement by Mascom Wireless that it was pulling out of Botswana Football League (BFL)’s Top 8 tournament left the latter bemused and dumbfounded.

Up until the announcement was made, BFL allegedly believed the agreement with Mascom Wireless was all but sealed. All that was left, according to sources, was for the two parties to iron out some few wrinkles in the agreement before it could be announced.

While the BFL was aware of Mascom’s alleged financial problems, termination of sponsorship had not been on the table. All this however changed with just a stroke of a pen.

Without a warning, not even to the BFL, Mascom announced to the local media that it was pulling out. In a press statement, the company indicated the decision was taken after ‘thorough evaluation and deliberations.’

“This is as an outcome of the challenges to our business fundamentals, due in large part to the current socio-economic climate which has resulted in financial constraints and not allowed us to commit the resources necessary for a successful delivery of the Mascom Top 8,” the company announced.

Reached for comment, BFL chief executive officer (CEO) Solomon Ramochotlhwane said his office is not at liberty to comment on the matter at the moment. He said the BFL board is yet to deliberate on the matter.

“We expect the BFL board to meet very soon to discuss the issue. Things have happened so fast and we were caught off guard as we believed negotiations were still ongoing,” the BFL CEO said.

Ramochotlhwane went on to explain that what caught them off guard even more was that the press release to the media arrived almost at the same time as the letter they had received from Mascom.

While the BFA CEO refused to discuss the issue further, Sunday Standard has it on good authority that a deal between the two was all but done before Mascom’s announcement.

According to a source, a sponsorship deal between the two parties had been completed as far as December last year. “All that was left was for the two parties to sign the agreement,” the source said.

The two parties had allegedly agreed for the contract to be signed on the sidelines of the Mascom Charity Cup in April. “There was however a postponement as signatories from Mascom’s side were said to be unavailable.”

This was however to prove the beginning of the end as sometimes thereafter, Mascom informed BFL that it was facing financial problems. The company then requested for a review of the sponsorship package.

“They (Mascom) requested for a 40% decrease on the sponsorship funds due to financial problems. The BFL then wrote back with a counter proposal of their own in which they suggested a 20% cut would be ideal.”

“As it stands, the BFL was still waiting for a response on its counter proposal when Mascom’s press release emerged. They were still hoping negotiations will continue for Mascom to at least sponsor the tournament for just one last season,” the source explained.

On whether or not Mascom had shown any grievances which could have made it renege on sponsoring the Top 8 tournament, the source replied on the negative. As far as the source could gather, everything was well between the two parties.

To show an extent to which BFL believed the deal was finalised, it is alleged they had already planned for a sponsorship launch and media engagement. In fact, the BFL had already started drafting fixtures which included dates when the Top 8 tournament will be played.

Now with Mascom having pulled the rug under their feet, the BFL now has to work around the clock to ensure sponsors come on board. Whether this will be possible, only time will tell.


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