Sunday, March 3, 2024

Teams relegated or not …, the show goes on

According to Botswana Football Association (BFA) the decision to relegate the five (5) club licensing non-compliant teams is final. The teams will play in the lower BFA regional football association structures.

The decision now leaves the Botswana Football League (BFL) with just eleven teams to play in the league, that is if Township Rollers is still in the elite league when the season resumes. As it is, Rollers’ future still hangs in the balance as the BFL has appealed the verdict which ruled Rollers not guilty of any misconduct in the defaulter case.

Whatever the decision on Rollers may be, it will not be business as usual when the Premier league resumes in September. Local football supporters will have to get to grips with a league consisting of fewer teams than they have been used to in recent years.

BFL chief executive officer (CEO) Solomon Ramochotlhwane says the league will continue with whatever number of teams available to it at the time. At the moment, he is not sure if there can be a waiver for any team to be promoted to fill the void left by the five relegated teams.

“There is no clause on replacement of teams relegated from the premier league due to club licensing failure. There is no trickle-down benefit. Also, we do not believe teams being promoted through such will come ready and club licensing compliant. Unless BFA creates such a waiver for teams to be promoted, no teams will be promoted to fill the void left by those relegated,” he explains.

While there are ongoing concerns that the reduction in number of teams will translate into reduction quality in the league product, the BFL CEO says he does not believe such. In fact, he believes it may translate into a much better-quality product in the future.

“First of all, the relegation of teams due to failing club licensing has nothing to do with allegations of a long-held intention to reduce number of teams competing in the premier league. Clubs have to know that they have to comply with club licensing requirements.”

“Will the relegation of the clubs affect the quality of the league product? I do not believe that. In fact, when we have all our teams complying with all requirements of club licensing, we will have a quality product,” Ramochotlhwane says.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, one administrator says it is good that the teams were relegated rather than pardoned as was done previously. “Look at Police XI and Security Systems as an example. A couple of seasons back, they were ousted for not paying their membership subscriptions. Since then, no club, not even the two, have failed to subscribe on time. Lesson learned. From now onwards, I believe no team will fail to comply with club licensing requirements as has been the case previously.”

On how the relegation of teams failing to comply will affect the quality of the league, the administrator echoed Ramochotlhwane’s assertions that it may improve the quality. “Quality comes through compliance to regulations. Compliance is the first step towards professionalism. We cannot cry about quality of our product and yet continue to pardon teams which fail the most basic requirements of professionalism,” he says.

In fact, the administrator believes that the reduction in the number of teams in the league may be beneficial. He says Botswana should learn from countries with smaller populations who have opted for a small number of teams in their leagues in order to enhance the quality of the product.

“We should ask ourselves if we have a good population to support the number of clubs in the elite league. Looking at our population and companies we have, we should also ask ourselves if we can have enough sponsors for us to support the need of sixteen teams in our league.”

On the way forward when the league resumes, Ramochotlhwane says if the status quo remains as is right now, the league will decide on a new format to cater for a reduced number in teams. “For us as the BFL, we can always change the format and rules of our competitions to suit our situation,” he concludes.


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