When the Botswana Premier League (BPL) board agreed to run a league with no prize monies back at the beginning of last season, no eyebrows were raised.
Botswana Telecommunication Corporation (BTC) had just cut short its league sponsorship, leaving the once proud football league brand fighting for survival.
At the time, the feeling was that as the elite league had lost sponsors, rather than have prize monies at the end of the season, teams would equally share whatever scanty monies thrown towards league sponsorship.
Speaking in an interview with The Sunday Standard at the time, one BPL board member said the BPL Board had ‘agreed that there will be no prize monies for the league’, something which the BPL secretariat did not dispute.
“All the teams will share whatever is there equally among themselves and there will be no prize monies,” the source revealed.
He went on to reveal that for this season: “Teams will only be fighting for a trophy, medals and the opportunity to compete in the continental championships.”
However, even then, the signs were ominous that this would be the worst league season in time immemorial.
Back then, some board members were said to have been against the idea of starting the league season without sponsors in place and no guarantees on prize monies.
The reasoning for these members was that the BPL Board should instead temporarily suspend the league and vigorously hunt for sponsorships
This idea was however not widely accepted, and those for the idea of starting the league got their way.
For these BPL Board members, with no prize monies ‘the playing field would be level as all teams would be getting an equal share.’
But as they say, hindsight is 20/20 and the year 2020 is already showing the BPL Board it lacked foresight.
Fast forward five months later and with the club licensing biting hard, the clubs are now decrying the lack of sponsorship or even prize monies at the end of the season.
According to one board member who advocated for equal sharing of the prize monies, ‘what is transpiring right now is not what was agreed at the start of the season.’
“We were hopeful that the majority of the monies from the sponsors would be shared equally among teams as grants,” the member said.
The member, whose team is one of the many teams struggling to meet their monthly due deliverables said the situation is desperate.
“In most instances, all we got was P10 000 monthly grants for each team with the exception of December when each team got P12 000. Now we are asking ourselves where the bulk of the monies are going if teams do not get it,” the member said.
The member said for struggling teams, they need at least P25 000 a week or P100 000 a month to make ends meet, meaning the P10 000 monthly is not enough to help them.
According to the member, with institutional teams guaranteed monies from the government, ‘this may be time for institutional teams not to be given grants.’
He said opined that the monies for institutional teams’ grants should rather be shared among other teams to increase the little they get.
Reached for comment, another board member opined that in hindsight, the BPL should have stayed the start of the league to allow for it to find sponsors.
“We only started the league because it was insisted that more monies would be coming the way of the league and that whatever was got would be shared equally among the teams,” he said.
He however said since then, nothing has come of the expected grants from the BPL office. “For us to get the P12 000 grants we were given back in December, we literally had to go knee in cap before the BFA,” he explained.
The member added that with the demands of club licensing, it was even becoming more difficult for teams to make ends and the pressure was becoming unbearable.
“We are even expected to hire A License coaches for our teams but the monthly grants cannot even cover fees for a coach,” the member said.
Reached for comment, a well placed source within the BFA said contrary to what was being said, teams were receiving their monthly grants as expected.
“We have never gone a month without paying them their monthly grants,” the BFA insider quipped.
As far as he is concerned, in December, teams ‘were given P25 000’ as grants. “The P12 000 they got was in addition to the P13 000 they had gotten earlier, taking the total grants for that month to P25 000.”
Meanwhile, the BFA has distanced itself from a statement released by the BPL Help Desk stating there will be no prize monies for the league this season.
In an error riddled statement hastily released on Friday, the BFA said the association president will ‘issue a statement regarding BPL challenges.’
However, it remains to be seen whether the BFA president will dispute whether there will be no prize monies for the league this season.
According to a source, it is not expected the president will dispute the statement. He said rather, the BFA ‘is not happy the BPL released such a statement which can negatively affect the association’s image.’