Monday, May 25, 2020

The Meat Boys want their blood

Yesterday’s shortcuts are today’s nightmares. The expression suits the Premier League outfit Gilport Lions well.

The team’s transition from BMC FC is yet to haunt itsowner Kelisitse Gilika who recently acquired itfrom the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC). The earstwhile BMC FC executive committee chaired by Sonny Phiri is in the process of reversing it to its former name and ownership (the society).

In an interview with Phiri, he confirmed that they were at an advanced to change the name to BMC FC and revert it to its previous ownership.

“We don’t want to inherit problems and debts from the owners of Gilport. What we want is a clean handover that is a debtless team like they acquired it on the silver platter,” explained Phiri. He added: “We have written to all the key stakeholders involved in this case; that is the BFA, the Registrar of Societies, BMC, Premier League and Esfandier Ghodrati,” he said.

Phiri further said they would be meeting Gilport owners next week to agree on fundamental issues so that they are able to start the process of reversing everything to its original place. According to Phiri, they have been submitting the annual returns with the Registrar of Societies and their committee was recently retained in office in an Annual General Meeting (AGM)

A letter dated October 26 from the aggrieved lawyers, Serole and Partners, says the transfer was wrongful and illegal and adds “the said Ghodrati was to be the new owner of the franchise.

“BMC further advised Mr Ghodrati that he was at liberty to engage his own management committee to run the club and to even change the name of the franchise if he so wishes,” readsthe letter.

Phiri says upon the transfer Ghodrati sold/or transferred BMC FC to Gilport Enterprise (PTY) Ltd trading as Gilport Sporting Club.

He also explained that Gilport has now purportedly assumed the status of BMC in the BFA and now plays in the elite football league.

Phiri and his team argue that BMC is a statutory body duly established by the Botswana Meat Commission, 1965 (Cap 4:04. “The duties and powers of the BMC are conferred by such Act and BMC can only act within the four corners of that Act. BMC cannot thus own a football team let alone sanction that a football team be transferred to another entity,” argues Phiri.

In explaining the process of transfer, the lawyers explained that, alienation and or change of name of BMC can only be made after a membership meeting is held where a resolution is passed to amend the constitution of the social club. No meeting was ever held, they say.

Phiri explained that if the constitution was amended it was supposed to have been submitted to the Registrar of Societiesapproval andamendment.

Phiri said since the wrongful transfer they have been meeting and working hard to alert BMC (commission) that what they had done was not procedural and they would not rest until the team was back to the rightful owners. “The sale of BMC FC to any other party was wrong and should be reversed,” Phiri says.

Phiri said they would not want to inherit problems hence they had to do due diligence before and finish all the process to see the team back to the rightful owners without debts.

“Players’ contracts have to be reviewed and only those they can afford will be retained,” he explained.

Phiri said they could not sleep when things were not done properly otherwise it was going to look like they were endorsing the illegal transfer.

If the matter is not solved amicably it is likely to seek the redress of courts of law.

Premier League teams have been meeting resistance in their efforts to turn clubs from societies into companies. The teams are yet to find a model in which the can change clubs into companies without rubbing supporters the wrong way.

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Sunday Standard May 24 – 30

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of May 24 - 30, 2020.