Wednesday, February 21, 2024

League boycott bears fruit

The recent stance by the Botswana Football League (BFL) to boycott matches has now borne fruit. 

Though the decision to defy the BFA was seen as ugly by a section of supporters, some good has come off it. Teams have now been given grants to help them ease their financial burdens.

A demand for grants was among the conditions put forth by teams if they were to return to play. Last week, each team in the premier league was given P70 000.00. The grants were coming from the TV rights money. Teams from both first division north and south were each given P80 000.00 from league sponsor, Debswana mining company. 

“The suspension of the league worked. One of our demands to return to play has been met because the monies were paid and we are expecting more. We are expecting P130 000.00 to be paid to each premier league team once the second batch of payment comes from the national broadcasting television station (BTV),” one shareholder opined.

He went on to allege that there had been ‘a lot of maladministration at the elite league.’ “Had the shareholders not taken a stand to suspend the league matches, teams were not going to be given their monies. They were not going to get anything. It was going to benefit individuals as opposed to benefiting the teams in the league.” 

The shareholder said he was baffled that things had to get ugly before the right decisions were made. “Why do people have to wait for a strike before monies could be paid?” the administrator wondered. 

He pointed out that this shows that monies had always been available, only that the monies ended up lining some people’s pockets. “All along we have been told there is no money. But once we suspended the league, money became available. Now we are being told the next batch will be paid once the second batch is paid. Why were we not paid when the first batch was paid?”

With Premier league teams struggling to make ends meet, they have always been relying on grants and gate takings to supplement what they had. This situation was aggravated by a lack of sponsors for the elite league. 

Despite the dire financial status of the teams, they are always expected to be up to date with the club licensing requirements. Failure to fulfil the strict demands of club licensing results in teams being reprimanded. 

With last week’s grants and whatever they get in the next batch, teams are hopeful they will have some long-awaited relief from financial pressures. Some teams had already started defaulting on monthly payments. Though the grants are late, they believe they are better late than not getting anything.

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