Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Stadium lockdown looming as BPL fails to pay

BY DUNCAN KGANGKENNA

Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) stadia may soon be out of bounds for premier league teams if the Botswana Premier league office fails to pay outstanding debts.

At the start of the season, the BPL undertook to pay a lump sum to the BNSC for the use of all the stadia. Under that undertaking, BPL Premiership teams were then to use the stadia without having to pay.

It has however since transpired that the BPL office has failed to pay as agreed and it now owes the BNSC P1.2 million.

With payment now seeming unlikely, the BNSC is said to have written to the BPL secretariat informing them their facilities will be out of bounds until they are paid.

According to sources at the BNSC, the league was given out to end of business on the 31st January 2019 to have settled the debt.

With the league now in its second round, the BNSC is allegedly running out of patience with the BPL as it continuously fails to pay.

Sources say the commission is not convinced the premier league can be trusted to pay the money before the end of the season.

“The BNSC feels it is better it closes the stadia to force the BPL to pay. They opine that if they continue allowing them to use the stadia, the season will end without them paying and the BNSC will be saddled with the debt,” the source revealed.

“Once the league is over there won’t be anyone bothered to pay and the frequent change of management at the league might work against the BNSC when they track the league to pay,” the source continued.

The revelation of BPL’s failure to pay contradicts what the premier league office has been saying all along. During an interview with Sunday Standard sports in November last year, BPL Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Thabo Ntshinogang said his office had secured and paid BNSC to use all the stadia under its management for BPL premiership games.

“The Premier League Board has agreed to pay a lump sum for use of all stadiums managed by BNSC not only the National Stadium,” explained Ntshinogang.

The news of the impending closure of stadiums will come as a surprise premiership teams as their monthly grants have been stopped with an understanding that the league office will use the moment to pay for the use of the stadium.

Teams have also been assured and informed by the BPL office that the facilities have been paid for and will be open for them to use for the whole season.

If the BNSC warning comes to pass, it will be a first for BPL teams to be locked out of using the stadia over failed payments. In the past the BNSC was never owed any monies as it was paid directly from the gate takings of each match played at their stadia.

The sport governing body was getting 25% of money accrued from the gate takings on match day. The BNSC was getting its share after the tickets sales were reconciled by team officials and BNSC officials. The fee was however a source of discontent for some teams officials as they opined it was too high.

Under the new system which the BPL had devised, teams would have been responsible for selling their tickets and were get 100% gate-taking without any deduction either to the league office or BNSC.

Now with an impending closure of stadiums, teams may soon find themselves with nowhere to play.

BNSC stadiums that are used for premier league competitions are the national stadium, Lobatse, Molepolole, Serowe, Francistown and Maun Sports complexes.

Called for comment, Ntshinogang could not disclose how much the league has paid the BNSC for the use of their facilities.

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