On Friday 15th, just five days from today, the deadline for local Premier League teams to have complied with Club Licensing requirements will elapse.
As has been the case since club licensing was introduced, the jury is still out on whether or not the Botswana Football Association (BFA) will finally play ball and enforce the regulations.
Since club licensing was introduced more than four years ago, many a local teams have managed to evade compliance with its rigid requirements.
For some analysts and those within BFA’s Lekidi corridors, this has been partly due to the BFA’s tendency to play ‘Tom and Jerry’ with non-complying clubs.
From the 2018/2019 season when full implementation started, the BFA has failed to put its feet down as clubs dictated terms.
The BFA’s tendency to bend backwards to accommodate clubs however may set it in collusion course with the Confederation of Africa Football (CAF).
CAF, as the football controlling body in the continent, has vowed to take action against FAs for failing to enforce club licensing.
Whereas the BFA had initially set the end of November 2020 as the deadline for compliance, when the date arrived, many clubs had not complied, forcing the association to extend its deadline to 15th January 2021.
Despite the extension, many clubs seem likely to miss the deadline, that is if the remarks of the BFA competitions Manager Setete Phuthego are anything to go by.
“By far, we only have five clubs that have fully complied. A further ten clubs were handed an extension between December and 15th January 2021 as they had fallen short of fulfilling the requirements needed from them,” Phuthego explained.
The BFA Competitions Manager said the remaining club, the newly promoted club ‘Mogoditshane Fighters’ has been given up to end of January to have fully complied.
Asked what will happen to premier league clubs who fail to meet the deadline, Phuthego said the expectation is that they will be relegated to regional leagues.
The BFA Competitions Manager however seemed to dither when asked whether the sanctions will really apply, saying only the Botswana National League could decide whether it will allow teams to play.
Attempts to reach the Botswana National League CEO Monnakgotla Mojaki for a comment however proved futile as his phone rang unanswered
Meanwhile, local football analyst Jimmy George said there should be no bets on the BFA enforcing club licensing as it has not shown any seriousness on the issue.
“If BFA was really serious about compliance, they should have used the window of opportunity in 2020 when corona was making its introduction to push compliance,” he observed.
He said teams that failed to meet the initial November 2020 deadline should have been relegated and their statuses floated to interested parties.
“In that instance, any club, it be in first division or even regional which proves it could fully comply would then show interest and given BPL slot if it fulfills regulations,” said George.
He said premier league teams are used to BFA being sympathetic and bending their rules.
George said because of this, clubs will never take seriously this issue of compliance unless BFA stamps its authority and acts.
“It will not be wrong to remove these teams from the BPL and give others a chance who are serious about being professional. Our BPL teams have so many issues, they are always behind in payments, week in and out they are having hearings so this will be the perfect time for our teams to reevaluate and step up to the plate,” George said.
He noted that if teams can fully comply it will help BFA secure proper sponsorship deals and stop settling for less.
“BFA should stop bending and stop being sympathetic to teams. If they want full compliance, they have to go for it once and for all,” he said.
With the season set to start in February next month, George said the jury will be out on whether or not the BFA can finally come good on its threats.