Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Premier League …, Botswana football’s powder keg ready to explode

Who would have thought! Two decades of trying to keep the lid on the powder keg that is Botswana’s elite premier league, a match may be now lit and ready to explode it.

This past week, six premier league teams, making six shareholders of the new Botswana Football League (BFL) have, through Lore Morapedi attorneys, wrote a letter to their Board of Directors led by Aryl Ralebala expressing displeasure on several issues ‘affecting the company.’

The six teams are Township Rollers, Gaborone United, Notwane, Extension Gunners, Mogoditshane Fighters and Gilport Lions. The six, who accuse the Chairman of the Board of Directors of ‘appropriating to himself certain powers that are not there in the constitution or the companies act’ want several issues to be put in the agenda for the next shareholders’ meeting, something which the Board is allegedly not keen to do.

According to sources, the six shareholders are said to be ready to stop or boycott the next Board of Directors meeting which is scheduled for 28th September as they believe it is unconstitutional. The six are said to be ready to take legal action against the Board of Directors should the said meeting proceed.

“Our clients have, on the 22nd September 2021 received from the chairperson of the Board an invitation to attend a shareholders meeting, which is scheduled for the 28th 2021. The said notice is with respect defective in so far as it does not give adequate notice for the meeting in terms of the constitution of the company” read an objection letter from Lore Morapedi Attorneys.

Morapedi informed the BFL Board of Directors that the notices of meetings are governed by clause 13 of the constitution and at least 21 clear days and 14 clear days, notice in writing shall be given for meetings respectively. “We request that adequate notice that complies with the constitution be given,” directed BFL chairperson to the needful.

In what may be a first direct attack at the persona of Ralebala, the teams accuse the chairperson of the league for having assumed himself powers that are not there in the constitution. “In fact our clients complain that the Chairperson of the Board has appropriated for himself certain powers that are not there in the constitution or the Companies Act, including signing agreements on behalf of the company without any board resolutions, or contrary to the clear instructions of the shareholders,” the letter reads.

“It is therefore imperative that issues dealing with the shareholders be allowed a reasonable opportunity to discuss, question or comment on the management of the company, and where the circumstances permit, to make recommendations carried as a special resolution to bind the board,” demanded Morapedi.

Among issues the six community teams want included in the next shareholders meeting are the ‘regulation/rectification of the number of members of the board from the premier league,’ ‘matters affecting the management of the company’ as well as ‘consideration of unauthorised transactions.’

According to a source, the scheduled shareholders’ meeting, which is to be held on Tuesday, was expected to only ‘address issues of the start of the league and associated precursors,’ something which the six teams are against as they want their grievances to be addressed before the league could resume.

“We wish to advise that Chairperson of the Board does not have powers to limit matters or issues that the Shareholders would like attended to at a meeting of the shareholders,” the letter reads.

In the letter, attorney Morapedi warned the Board of Directors that should they fail to comply with his clients demands, “our clients rights remain reserved, and such may include taking legal action against such members of the board who breach their fiduciary duties to the company and/or refusal to participate in the upcoming season.”

Meanwhile, sources say the six teams, acting in cohort with the other four teams not named in the letter, are at advance stage of playing pre-season ‘mini league’ without other six teams not fighting in the same corner with them. The league will be played like the normal league with sponsors and prized money at the end.

While nothing has been said on the matter, the playing of the mini league is expected to send an ominous warning to the BFL and extension the BFA of a potential splinter league. The last time a mini league was played was more than two decades ago in 2000 during the BFA and Botswana Soccer Association (BOSA) saga.

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