Match day officials have been cut off from the recent P39 million Premier League (BPL) sponsorship grant by Botswana Telecommunication Corporation Limited (BTCL).
The BTCL partial patronage means another difficult season for referees as the BPL has been struggling to pay their wages.
Sunday Standard established that BTCL rebuffed efforts by BPL to include match officials’ budget in the sponsorship package.
A budget proposal leaked to Sunday Standard reveals that the BPL had proposed that P1 million per season be included in the deal to cover match officials’ travelling and accommodation expenses.
BTCL however spurned the request, leaving the BPL with no option but to start sourcing funds from its own administration coffers to cover the referees’ budget for the season.
The BPL has revealed that they still do not have enough money to cover match officials’ costs.
BPL Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Thabo Ntshinogang said despite the challenges, they are working hard to ensure that all logistics are well in place for the referees to execute their job diligently.
‘’We cannot discuss anything to do with match officials and the sponsor but we can guarantee that we are doing our best to satisfy referees needs. For now it is challenging that we do not have a special budget for the match officials but everything is under control as their expenses are covered under the administrative budget,” Ntshinogang said.
For his part, BTCL Acting Head of sponsorship and Consumer Public Relations, Leornard Seone refused to be drawn into discussing the issue. He said the BTCL was contributing to the development of football in the country.
Seone said theirs was not the administrative part of the game and that it was for the BPL to sort issues concerning other factors of the game.
‘’We are doing our best to promote and develop local football and we cannot assist all stakeholders. It should be understood that we are not administrators but sponsors so it is for the BPL to sort ways in which they will spend sponsorship money as long as it is accounted for at the end. If the BPL has some challenges, it is for them to see how to tackle them,” said Seone.
The issue of referees’ welfare is said to so critical that the BPL was recently forced to drop an official just hours before he was due to officiate the match between Miscellaneous and Police played at the Serowe Sports complex because the league administrators did not have money to pay for the official’s travel and accommodation logistics.
Commenting on the matter, referees commission Vice Chairman Colonel Edwin Senai said it was critical that funds were availed for match officials all the time as they play a critical role in football.
While acknowledging that lack of sponsorship for referees is a challenge, Senai was however hopeful that the Botswana Football Association (BFA) delegation tasked with seeking assistance for match officials will succeed.
‘’My understanding is that efforts are being made to seek a sponsor for match officials,” said Senai.