Botswana Football Association (BFA) president, Tebogo Sebego, has rubbished reports that the deregistration of Premier League sides Police XI and Security Systems was not fair to both clubs.
In their arguments, some football commentators say the two sides could have been charged rather than ceasing their membership. Both sides’ membership was ceased after they failed to pay their annual P300 subscription fee.
Addressing journalists at a packed Lekidi Football Centre on Friday morning, Sebego said it is unfortunate that he has to address such a sensitive issue three weeks after being elected as the BFA president for the next four years. He pointed out that during his campaign he brought to the fore the importance of the constitution of the association.
“As the President, Article 18.104.22.168 states that I shall be the head of the association and the embodiment of its spirit and, importantly, the defender of the provisions of the constitution. It is in this spirit that the defense of this constitution must be done without fear or favour,” said Sebego when responding to the issue.
The BFA boss added that the decision to cease both clubs’ membership was done after the Gaborone Regional Football Association (GRFA) informed the mother-body that the clubs had not paid. Under the association statues, Police XI and Security Systems have to pay their fees to GRFA of which they fall under.
“We waited for the regions to communicate to us which teams have not paid their annual fees after the deadline which was August 10. In the event that some teams chose not to pay, that means they’re not friends of football. We believe that the regions have exercised their rights in good faith,” he continued.
Sebego said that after they received the report, the National Executive Committee (NEC) met and deliberated on the matter. Sebego said he is saddened by the turn of events but he pointed out that a decision had to be taken. The newly-elected president added that his committee cannot be blamed for both clubs’ situation as they are the ones which failed to exercise their rights by renewing membership before the August 10 deadline.
The BFA boss referred the journalists to the case of Ramotswa-based Home Defenders FC vs Botswana Football Association 2005 (1) BLR 400 at page 405 where the then Judge Lesetedi said: “the respondent (BFA) is a voluntary association. It is founded on the basis of a mutual agreement among its members. Its constitution, rules and regulations constitutes that agreement. This agreement is a crucial factor in the existence of the association not only does it determine the nature and the scope of association existence and activities, it also prescribe and demarcates the powers of various structures of the association. Furthermore, it expresses and regulates the rights and obligations of its members and provides forgiven procedural steps.”
Sebego further highlighted that at the general assembly on July 28, the then BFA president David Fani reminded structures of the need of the clubs to observe the constitution to pay the subscriptions.
When responding to the question of whether both clubs’ decision was taken to favour other sides, especially relegated Notwane, Sebego responded, “I’m a very principled man and I don’t entertain cheap talk.”
While it is understood that Security Systems intend to go the legal route, Sebego said that he is not worried because they are no longer members of the association as envisaged by the constitution.
Systems had just been promoted to the elite league.
Police XI official Solomon Mantswe admitted that they have erred but said having been members of the BFA for 33 years, they wanted a chance to present the reasons which could have led to the non-payment.
“This is an unfortunate situation and we hope that an amicable decision would be taken,” he added.
The decision means that Notwane make a quick return to the elite league without playing a single game at the lower division by virtue of having been the best relegated team in the previous season. Mahalapye-based BR Highlanders will fill another slot having lost in the promotional play-offs to Prisons XI.
The Premier League season is expected to start on September 14.