Sharps Electrical Football club fans are up in arms following an attempt to change the team’s name as part of a rebranding exercise.
Promoted to the elite league after being crowned champions of the 2016/17 Debswana First Division South League (DFDSL) the club has registered for the BTC Premiership as Sharps Shooting Stars.
A disgruntled faction of the Premiership rookies feel that their identity is ‘’sacrosanct” and that the club cannot change its name without consulting members as it is governed by the society act.
Sources close to the controversy told Sunday Standard Sports that the row has been escalated to the registrar of societies who has been asked to intervene. The dispute is expected to reach the Botswana Football Association (BFA) and Botswana Premier League (BPL) this week.
‘’Due to unstable finances, Sharps management changed over the years with many hands supporting the club’s sustenance in the past seasons. The challenge now is that rumours indicate the club has been sold and changed name without involving the society and its supporters.
Sentimental supporters are aggrieved and feel the rebranding exercise and sale amounts to a defilement of the team’s heritage.
Disgruntled supporters told Sunday Standard that efforts to consult alleged owner Somerset Gobuiwang about the matter on several occasions did not bear fruits.
‘’ Plans of a mediation between the supporters and the club leadership have since collapsed and the disgruntled faction is considering legal action,” a source said.
Former Sharps Electrical spokesperson Edward Ngwaga told Sunday Standard that the team cannot change its name without the blessing of the community as it is a project of the people of Naledi, where the club is based. He said they were surprised that the club has been re-christened Sharps Shooting Stars which they believe is illegal.
‘’We have since approached the registrar of societies to seek clarity on the club’s name change. Upon arrival we were advised that nothing has changed as the club is still registered as Sharps Electrical. We are however shocked that BFA acknowledge the new name without the approval of the registrar of societies.”
Ngwaga told Sunday Standard that the club was formed by his late parent Celinah Ngwaga together with late Charles Chilisa in 1983 when he was engaged as the club spokesperson. ‘’It should be understood that we are not fighting anyone here, we are excited that the club has grown with investors coming on board, but it does not give them the right to change the club’s name without engaging the community as the team was formed in the presence of Naledi community as a society. We tried to bring on board mediators to engage Gobuiwang but nothing has materialised thus far and we cannot just roll over and play.” However, Gobuiwang declined to comment on the issue, saying ‘’I am still with Rollers despite watching football from the sidelines at the moment.”