Sunday, December 3, 2023

Gilport go AWOL …. Again

Botswana Premier League (BPL) has expressed concern that Gilport Lions’ failure to honor games might have negative impact on the league, its sponsors and other stakeholders. 

The concerns come as Lions has, for a second time this season, failed to honour a league fixture. 

Having failed to honour their game against Mochudi Centre Chiefs last month, the troubled Lions once again went Absent Without Official Leave (AWOL) this past weekend as the effects of the ill conceived transition starts boiling over.

This time around, Lions’ failed to turn up for its scheduled home game against Sankoyo Bush Bucks. The game was scheduled for Otse Police College.

Commenting on the matter, acting BPL Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Thabo Ntshinogang observed the failure to turn up for official games by Lions may have an unwanted impact on the league.

“Any negative thing that happens in the league may have negative impact on sponsors, potentials sponsors and other stakeholders,” acting BPL CEO observed.  

Asked whether Gilport has given them reasons why they did not attend the honour the match, Ntshinogang said “they did not give us any reasons. We will ask them through relevant structures. The Disciplinary Committee will ask them to account for their non appearance at the game.”

Despite the concerns over Lions’ capability to honor officials games, Ntshinogang said the team will be fixtured every weekend like other teams because it is part of the teams in the elite league. 

“We will only stop fixturing it if we have been advised by relevant structures. If a verdict comes pointing that that the team should be discontinued from the league that is when we will stop fixturing it,” Ntshinogang. 

While the BPL denied they have any information regarding Lions’ failure to honour games, sources have revealed the current situation is due to a failing transition process at the team.

Gilport found itself in a catch-22 situation following some ownership disputes that erupted between former BMC committee and the current owners of Gilport, Kelisitse Gilika. The former contended the procedures taken in transferring the team from BMC to Gilport. 

In the aftermath of the dispute, Gilika handed back the team to the concerned former BMC committee members, but agreed to help the team until it completes full transition back to BMC, an agreement which is now falling apart.

It is alleged that during the past week Gilport players threatened to boycott the past weekend fixture due to unpaid salaries. The players stood by their stance and did not honour the fixture. Sankoyo Bush Bucks who were traveling from Maun had to travel back without kicking the ball. 

Contacted for comment, Sonny Phiri said the reaction comes as players are concerned that they are owed some months hence it is difficult to honour matches. 

“It is difficult to run the company that is not yours. The company has its own employees and contracts that are binding. We cannot meet those contracts because we are not the ones who entered into those agreements” explained Sonny Phiri. 

According to chairman Phiri they players want assurance that if they get injuries they will be supported in medical assistance without any problems. He said they players have bowed not to play for free any more. He said the smooth transfer that they have agreed with former owners has since failed. 


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