Since that fateful day when Lobatse Cash Stores (LCS) ceased to bankroll Gunners in the late 90’s, life has never been the same for Mapantsula. The once fearful side turned into a shadow of their former selves as they relied on handouts from supporters and well wishers to make ends meet.
In the end, Gunners lost big name players like Terrence Mophuting, Francis Chisenga, Scara Kebalepile and Itumeleng Duiker, primarily because they could not afford to pay their salaries. Poor performance ensued, and the hordes of supporters who previously backed Gunners started deserting the team.
Almost 15 years later, there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel. The once mighty Gunners looks set to bounce back to their former glory, as a well known Gaborone businessman has offered to inject capital into the team and take Mapantsula back to their glory days. When he was given the chairmanship of Gunners last year, Kitso Dlamini promised that his committee would work hard to attract investors to the cash strapped club. At the time, he boasted that Gunners’ history would be good enough to attract the attention of those with financial muscle. After investing on Gunners’ neighbours BMC almost a year ago, the Ghodrati family reportedly concluded that they had made a bad investment and it was not worthwhile to continue with Ezinkomo. BMC’s loss was Gunners’ gain.
Impressed by the intensity and passion displayed by Gunners supporters, Ghodrati made overtures to the Peleng giants and set in motion a series of talks that would culminate in the signing of a landmark deal in the near future. While he is new to football, Ghodrati’s business background will benefit Gunners immensely.
“Everything has been concluded and both parties are satisfied with the arrangement. What is left is to put pen to paper, then the new marriage would be sealed. Our chairman, Kitso Dlamini, has been away and he is expected back in Gaborone today. As soon as he arrives the new deal will be signed. We are confident that this deal will benefit both parties,” said a source on Friday morning.
The source further denied allegations that Ghodrati is buying Gunners, saying he is coming on board as a financial backer.
“Gunners has not been sold to anyone. The club remains a society and the Ghodrati family is aware of that. Ghodrati’s joining us is seen as a blessing by those close to the club and we appreciate that he has seen the need to link with such a massive club,” continued the source.
This publication further learned that even though Ghodrati is based in Gaborone, Gunners will remain at their base in Lobatse and there won’t be change of names.
“Even speculation that we are merging with BMC is utter rubbish. The only thing that might happen is that Ghodrati, as a businessman, might decide to bring a few players from BMC to add value to Gunners,” the source said.
When approached for comment, Dlamini played his cards close to his chest. At first the charismatic Gunners’ boss claimed that he has been away and he is not aware of the latest developments. When pressed further, he said, “of course something is happening but wait for the media briefing which will take place next week.”
Meanwhile, Gunners’ relationship with Cumberland Hotel and Lobatse Clay Works has come to an end. Cumberland provided accommodation and meals for Gunners during home games while Lobatse Clay Works provided transport for the team during the entire season.
“The deals were only for last season and we’re still going to sit down with both companies to map the way forward. We appreciate the sterling work they did in supporting in us,” confirmed Dlamini. Gunners will host their Annual General Meeting at Civic Hall in Lobatse on June 21.