The Botswana Premier League (BPL) is set to get full autonomy from the Botswana Football Association (BFA). The announcement, which was made by the newly elected BFA President Maclean Letshwiti, will come as great news to the BPL which has always made it known that they want to be independent from the BFA.
Speaking in an interview after being elected into office, Letshwiti said while it will take at least a year for the BPL to be granted full autonomy, they will start enjoying a greater degree of independence with immediate effect.
“From now onwards, the BPL will enjoy the flexibility to run itself while we are still trying to give it a mandate to be independent,” the newly elected BFA President said. Letshwiti however said while the BPL will be given flexibility to run itself, it will take some time before they are given full rights for self determination as there are processes that need to be followed before they are made fully independent.
The news came on a day when the BPL Board had just survived being dismantled. The same Board also played a massive role in disposing of the Tebogo Sebego led BFA National Executive Committee (NEC). The BPL has always been at loggerheads with the immediate past BFA regime that was led by Sebego.
They asked and fought for independence something which was not granted. In their arguments, the BPL felt that they can grow the brand and the league better if they were independent from the BFA, as is the case with professional leagues in South Africa and abroad.
In fact, the BPL, when still under the leadership of Walter Kgabung and Solomon Mantswe, had gone to benchmark in the ABSA Premier League in South Africa and had made a proposal to the BFA. Their proposal was ‘still under consideration’ according to the immediate past BFA leadership.
The BPL always argued that since they are the ones who negotiated their sponsorships and managed their own affairs, it would be sensible for them to be independent to allow the BFA to focus on national issues. They argued that it made no sense for the BFA to sign the sponsorship agreements that they as BPL had sought. Additionally BPL said there was no need to get approval from BFA before signing any contracts with third parties.
Their argument is also that if they were independent, they would not be indebted to the taxman as they are now, something which has put them in the red financially. The BFA’s immediate past regime on the other hand felt the BPL was not ready for independence. In his arguments of granting the BPL independence they had sought, Letshwiti argued that it will give the BFA a chance to focus on regions as well as national strategies.
When quizzed on how he will ensure that the BPL runs properly, the new BFA President had this to say, “As you have seen, we have formed two reputable panels, the Disciplinary Committee as well the Ethics Committee. These are made of reputable men and women and they will deal with any issues of misconduct or ill discipline. That is how everyone, including the BPL and the BFA will be kept in line,” the BFA President explained.