Botswana football is never short of controversy. It seems to be the norm that whenever one puts his foot in football corridors there is war of words. Currently, there is a war between crowd favourites, Township Rollers, and the Botswana Football Association (BFA) over the issue of Orange sponsorship. Orange is sponsoring Rollers, despite their rivals, Mascom sponsoring the Premier League, in which Rollers is campaigning.
As if that is not enough, another war that involves Rollers is building up. The issue is about the sale of tickets, which most community teams want to sell themselves. They believe the exercise can generate a lot of income for their teams because their supporters would always be eager to buy. The teams believe that the current system that is used is not effective enough, especially bearing in mind that teams are in dire need of sponsors. Currently, if community teams engage each other, the host team takes 100 percent of the gate takings, but if it is against institutional teams, community teams walk away with 70 percent regardless of they are the home team or not.
Rollers managing director, Somerest Gobuiwang, is leading the pack saying community teams must unite and speak with one voice if the mission is to be realised. He said the situation is even sad when community teams are playing against each other.
“Once teams sell tickets, they are guaranteed money in every game they play. The more tickets they sell the more money and improvement of the welfare of our players. The typical example is when we hosted Lobtrans Gunners in the first round. We made a lot of money because both Rollers and Gunners supporters came in their numbers. It is now not guaranteed that Gunners are going to make the same amount of money. But had two teams sold tickets for themselves the gate takings could have been split between the two sides,” he said.
Gobuiwang admitted that there are going to be some pit falls if teams could sell tickets for themselves. He also said initiatives always have teething problems, and once such problems surface that’s how the system can be improved.
On the other hand, some teams, especially, institutional ones are against the move. They say those teams that want to sell tickets on their own have not put concrete reasons on the table.
Prisons manager, Thatayotlhe Ditirwa cautioned those teams that want to sell tickets, saying everything might end up backfiring on them. He said the teams have not yet come up with feasible marketing strategies.
“Talk is cheap. People always say things without looking at a broader picture. In the first place our football is not professional and this would make selling of tickets impossible. In addition, no body has come up with a viable marketing strategy. Generally, our teams are not ready to sell tickets for themselves,” he said.
Ditirwa also condemned the current strategy saying institutional teams are segregated against. He said the current system whereby hosting community teams take all the gate takings was a temporary measure and was supposed to end last year October. He said a task force was even appointed to look at the whole exercise but still nothing had materialised.
Ditirwa said the old system whereby the host took 70 percent regardless of whether they were home or away must be reverted to.
The secretary general of the Premier League committee, Setete Phuthego, told The Sunday Standard that no team had recently approached them regarding the sale of tickets. Phuthego said teams did so in the past but they failed to support the modalities on how they are going to appropriately execute the initiative.
“Before the start of the 2004/2005 season, some teams made a proposal requesting to sell tickets for themselves, but their motion was defeated as 13 teams voted against it, and currently no body has formally approached us,” Phuthego said.
Phuthego also added that the task force that was appointed to look at the current gate takings system is done with its own investigations and would by next week meet the Premier League. He said the teams would only be consulted after that.