Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Gilport Lions embroiled in bitter ownership wrangle

Gilport Lions is embroiled in a legal wrangle with the ‘now defunct’ BMC FC as some aggrieved members are calling for the restoration of the club ‘to BMC FC social club and to its affiliation and status in the Botswana Football Association (BFA) and the elite League.’

The aggrieved members have threatened to seek redress from the Courts of law on or before 11th November 2016 in the event that their demands are not met. The letter which was addressed to the Registrar of Societies, BMC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr Akolang Tombale, Gilport Enterprise Managing Director Kelesitse Gilika, Acting BFA CEO Susan Lawrence and Acting Botswana Premier League (BPL) CEO Thabo Ntshinogang, states that: 

“Gilport affiliated and assumed the status of BMC FC in the Botswana Football Association structures on the understanding, but mistaken belief that the football club was lawfully sold and/or alienated either by BMC or the social club to Mr Ghodrati, such affiliation is wrongful, is of no force and effect and accordingly ought to be set aside,” read part of the statement.

“To that end, we are instructed to demand, from you, and other parties involved as outlined above, that you restore forthwith BMC FC to the social club and by extension to its affiliation and status in the BFA and the elite league,” the letter continues.

According to the letter “The transfer, sale, alienation and change of name of BMC FC was wrongful and illegal, was not sanctioned by the relevant office, was against the Societies Act and importantly infringed with provisions and sprit of social club constitution.

More so, the letter states that as a statutory body, Botswana Meat Commission cannot own a team, arguing that the sale of BMC FC by Botswana Meat Commission was illegal.

‘’On or about June 2013, we are instructed that the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) acting jointly with the Social Club purportedly as the owners’ of BMC FC transferred the football club franchise to one Mr Esfandier Ghodrati. After the purported transfer of the club to Mr Ghodrati, he (Ghodrati) sold and/or transferred BMC FC to Gilport Enterprises (Pty) Ltd trading as Gilport Lions Sporting club. The said Gilport now purportedly assumed the status of BMC FC in Botswana Football Association (BFA) and now plays in the elite football league of the Republic, the BTC Premiership,” read the statement.

“We wish to underscore that the BMC is a statutory duly established by Botswana by Botswana Meat Commission, 1965 (Cap 4:04) (‘’the Act”). The duties and powers of the BMC are conferred by such Act and BMC can only act within the four corners of that Act. BMC cannot thus own a football team let alone sanction that a football team be transferred to another entity,” the aggrieved members argue.

Commenting on the matter, Gilport Lions Chairman Kelesitse Gilika expressed surprise over the whole situation.

“As far as I am concerned we were made to believe that everything was done properly in purchasing the club. We can only wait to hear from the concerned parties on the next step but it is surprising to hear such matters after three years. Obviously this has shaken our camp and it’s something coming out of the blues,” said Gilika. 

He said such matters have the potential to scare investors from assisting in the growth of local football.

‘’As investors in the game it brings the questions of worthiness  investing in the local game due to cases that affect relationship with sponsors and potential investors,” said Gilika.

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The Telegraph October 28

Digital edition of The Telegraph, October 28, 2020.