Local football clubs that will fail to comply with the Confederation of African Football (CAF) club licensing rules may find themselves expelled from the league come next season. This was revealed during a two day CAF club licensing seminar organized by both CAF and the Botswana Football Association (BFA).
With stiff sanctions-including expulsion from the league-a possibility, local clubs will have to race against time to ensure that they are licensed when the 2016/17 season resumes in August next year. Under CAF’s new Club Licensing System (CLS), clubs are expected to meet stringent requirements set by both CAF as well as the National Associations if they are to compete in continental and local competitions. Among the requirements, clubs are expected to show compliance in all terms of sporting, administrative, financial, legal and infrastructure criteria. During the two day licensing seminar, clubs were informed by both the CAF instructors, the BFA and the Botswana Premier League (BPL) that the CLS is done to foster professionalism in African football as well as to promote transparency in the finances, ownership and control of clubs. To be considered compliant under the sporting criteria, clubs were informed that they must have a vibrant youth development programme as well as youth development teams. Presenting to the seminar attendees on sporting criteria, CAF instructor, Honour Janza of Zambia, said clubs will be required to ‘invest in quality driven youth development programmes.’ He said clubs ‘must have a written youth development program approved by the BFA to be considered compliant.’
For the program to be approved, Janza said it must have clear objectives and youth development philosophy, qualified technical, medical and administrative personnel as well as a designated budget and available training facilities. He added that under the program, clubs must also ‘show commitment to and support of mandatory and complementary school education for young players.’ He said this is done in the interest of young players to ensure their education is not neglected. Concerning youth development teams, Janza said clubs must have ‘at least one youth team within the age range of 15 to 21 as well as another youth team within the age range of 10 to14.’ However, given the short period left before local clubs are licensed, an agreement was reached that in the interim, local clubs will be required to have only one youth team within the age range of 15 to 21 to comply with the CLS. Presenting on infrastructure, another CAF instructor, Saad Kawemba Byemba said for local clubs to comply with the CLS, they must ‘have an approved stadium where they will host all their matches as well as good training facilities.’ Among the prerequisites for such a stadium, Byemba said the stadium must be certified in accordance with national laws, have a control room, floodlights as well as first aid rooms and doping control rooms among others. He said where clubs do not have their own stadium; they will have to lease it to ensure its availability. This move will be a departure from the existing tradition where the BPL has always been the one negotiating with stadium owners. For a club to be licensed, Byemba said, they will have to provide a written contract with the owner of a stadium or with owners of different stadiums that will be used during the season. “This contract guarantees the use of the stadium for home matches in the coming season for which the club qualifies,” Byemba explained. With the new system in place, clubs will be responsible to ensure matches take place as scheduled, failure of which clubs will lose matches. Queried on whether different clubs can sign leases with the same owner, Byemba said it is a viable option given the shortage of facilities.