Saturday, July 4, 2020

League season under cloud as sponsorship difficulties reign supreme

BY BOTLHALE KOOTHUPILE

The Botswana Premier League (BPL) is tethering in the brink of uncertainty. With no recognisable sponsor for the league, teams are bracing themselves for the worst league season in time immemorial.

With Botswana Telecommunication Corporation (BTC) having cut short its sponsorship, the once proud football brand now finds itself scouring for ‘crumbs from the tables of potential sponsors.’

As the clock ticks away and leagues all over the world resume, local football supporters are yet to know for certain when the BPL will resume.

Already, speculation is swelling that when the league resumes, ‘there will be no prize monies for premier league teams,’ a proclamation which the BPL office could not even deny, at least not now.

In an interview with Sunday Standard, one BPL board member said at the recent board meeting, the BPL agreed that there will be no prize monies for the league.

“All the teams will share whatever is there equally among themselves and there will be no prize monies,” the source revealed.

He went on to reveal that for this season, “Teams will only be fighting for a trophy, medals and the opportunity to compete in the continental championships.”

The board member went on to state that for the only prize monies that are guaranteed are for the Mascom Top 8 tournament where teams will get their dues as per the norm.

With no prize monies, the board member said he expects the playing field to be level as all teams will be getting an equal share.

The board member’s utterances were confirmed by another board member who revealed ‘it was the position of the BPL board to have no prize monies for the league this season.’

“What we gather is that the league is likely to have no sponsor this season and the Botswana Football Association (BFA) has agreed to take whatever BTC is offering. Given the situation, the BPL board agreed to have all monies intended for the league to be shared equally among teams,” he explained.

The board member said given the current circumstances, teams are not even sure the premier league season will be played this year.

Reached for clarity, BPL Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Thabo Ntshinogang denied there has been such an agreement.

“As the league, we have not reached a stage where we could take such a decision as we do not even know whether we have sponsors,” he said.

According to Ntshinogang, the BPL board is still waiting for the BFA to give it feedback on sponsorship progress as they are the ones negotiating on behalf of the league.

“As far as we know, negotiations between the BFA and the sponsors are still ongoing and we will await their conclusions before making any decisions. We are hopeful we will get some feedback when we the BPL board meets with the BFA on Saturday (yesterday),” he said.

On whether the league will ever resume, Ntshinogang was positive ‘there will be a league’ this season but said he was not sure it will start on the forecast date. “For now, everything will depend on the outcome of the BFA BPL meeting,” he explained.

Another factor which will determine whether the league will start on the expected date, according to the BPL CEO, will be whether the Botswana Premier League Management Committee (BPLMC) has finished preparations for the league season.

It is expected that once instituted, the BPLMC, which is expected to be made of seven members, will oversee the running of the league, which will include match scheduling.

So far, it is said that only four (4) nominee members have accepted their nomination into the BPLMC while the other three (3) are yet to confirm.

“We are very hopeful that by Monday, they will have responded and accepted their nomination,” Ntshinogang said.

“Once they have all been appointed, they will look at the premier league fixtures and critic them. If they are satisfied, they will then pass them to the BPL board for consideration. The board will then also look at them and if happy, ratify them. Only after this process will the league resume if all conditions are met,” he concluded.

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Sunday Standard June 28 – 4 July

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