As the Township Rollers saga threatens to roll into the next summer, questions are now arising over the proficiency of the Botswana Football League (BFL) to run the professional league.
Already, there is a feeling that the BFL’s governance model or structure is not serving the interests of the league. Rather, some believe it is being used to serve the interests of one team over others.
Of great concern in this matter is the composition of the BFL board of directors. Whereas the BFL is a registered company with shareholders, being representatives of national league clubs, the composition of its board of directors is said to be suspect.
This stems from the election of the BFL board of directors from within the shareholders. It is believed that in a league where each shareholder has the interest of his or her club first and foremost, selecting the same to lead the board results in conflict of interest.
The view has gained even more momentum as the BFL has appealed the ruling in the Rollers’ misdemeanor charge of using a defaulter. Rollers was slapped with a P15 000 fine on the matter. Now, some within the BFL board believe the decision to appeal the Rollers ruling is ‘a one-man decision.’
“The current corporate structure of the BFL cannot take us where we want to go. We have to come up with a structure which can work within our local football landscape,” an administrator in the Botswana Football Association (BFA) structures opined.
According to the administrator, who was speaking on condition of anonymity, the BFL should have not just copied the structures used in developed leagues. Rather, he believes they should have taken into cognizance the prevailing circumstances within the local football landscape.
“We understand that the corporate structure the BFL has adopted is similar to the one used in the Premier Soccer League (PSL) in South Africa. There, they have Irvin Khoza, who is the chairman of Orlando Pirates as their board chairman. This structure can however not work within our football,” he opined.
With the BFL, the administrator said the best thing to do would be to have a sizeable number of executive and non-executive board members. Within this board, the administrator said independent board members should outnumber the executive board members.
“In any other company, the shareholders are pari passu or are equals. The board chairman of these companies does not wield powers to take some decisions unilaterally. Decisions here are taken with the consultation of all board members at any given time.”
“This however cannot work with the BFL where the chairman wields some powers which can allow him to take decisions unilaterally. This can lead to a point where decisions taken are meant to favour one side over the majority. Under the current structure, having an independent member as a board chairman will allow for decisions to be taken without taking sides,” he explained.
Contacted for comment, BFL chief executive officer (CEO) Solomon Ramochotlhwane said as a company, the BFL structure ‘has to be guided by corporate governance standards.’ He however said it was not within his remit to pass an opinion over the current structure as the BFL is still a new company.
As a new company still undergoing a transformation period, the BFL CEO said there are still a few things they are learning. He is of the belief that in time, they will get to where they want the BFL to be.
“We are cognizant of the problems and concerns from stakeholders, including those on the BFL board. We have just returned from our retreat and there are document and policies which we believe we have to put in place.” “As the BFL, we are on course to ensure we adhere to the best corporate governance standards. Those are the expectations from the registrar of companies. We also have an obligation to all our shareholders and stakeholders to adhere to the best corporate governance standards,” he added.