Thursday, December 8, 2022

Gonners or Not … future of relegated teams uncertain

Botswana Football Association (BFA) and the five elite teams recently relegated to the regional structures over failure to comply with club licensing are headed for a collision.

The five teams are Extension Gunners, Masitaoka, Mogoditshane Fighters, Morupule Wanders and Eleven Angels. They were condemned to the lowest regional structures after the BFA appeals board cast aside their appeal against the BFA First Instance Body (FIB) to relegate them for failing compliance.

This past season, teams were given last warning to meet the requirement for the next season failing which they will be relegated. The warning followed a couple of seasons where clubs were pardoned for failing compliance.

“All teams were given a chance and opportunity to comply. There is no chance of appeal. The affected clubs have been dismissed by the appeals body, the highest body, after appealing the First Instance Body decision on club licensing. They have been relegated to the lowest league, regional league,” BFA spokesperson Carol Kgafela says.

At its core, club licensing is intended “to promote and improve the quality and the level of all aspects of club football in Botswana, ensuring that clubs have the appropriate management and organization, improve the club’s sporting infrastructure, improving the economic and financial capacity of the clubs, through proper corporate governance and control.”

Masitaoka spokesperson, Oduetse Thuto, would not comment save to say: “we cannot comment on hearsay from social media. We haven’t received anything to the effect that we have been relegated to lower divisions. As far as we are concerned, we have met all the requirements of club licensing.”

Gunners’ chairperson, Bruno Masisi confirmed that they have received the letter condemning them to lower division. “We are still studying the club licensing manual and will map the way forward. It is bad and we have to act timely,” says Masisi.

He says they will also need to introspect as a team because they have been warned before to see what could be hindering the team to meet the set standards. The team is one of a few which were previously pardoned for failing to meet club licensing requirements.

Last year February, CAF club licensing officers came to Botswana at the invitation of the association and found out that the BFA’s club requirements were too high and did not speak to reality on the ground.

In their feedback, the CAF club licensing officers said ‘the objective is to professionalise clubs and football as a whole.’ They observed that the regulations should speak to reality because the intention is not to punish but to assist clubs to develop further and become professional.’

Football analyst, Jimmy George says the relegated teams should not despair. “The decision to relegate the teams is more beneficial to the teams. It gives power to the teams and the lower divisions will be more exciting and marketable,” he observes.

He opines that the committee that took decision to banish five teams was emotional and did not take into consideration efforts by teams to comply and compete. “How are teams expected to comply when the league is failing them? The grants that are supposed to be paid to teams are not paid and the league prize money is not there. Unless the league does its part, it is always going to be difficult for other teams to sustain their status in the premier league because there are no sponsors,” says George.

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