Clubs threaten League boycott
State-owned broadcaster, Botswana Television (Btv) is steadfast on its assertion that a contract signed between them and the premier league cannot be breached on the realisation that there shall be no financial benefit on part of the clubs this season.
WeekendSport establishes that the ‘dispirited’ stand by Btv now exert devastating pressure on the part of the league management as clubs are mooting to boycott the league. Sources at Btv indicate that the local broadcaster is however open for fresh negotiations but have also warned that a contract signed by both parties has to be adhered to. And unless the Botswana Football Association (BFA) comes in the nick of time to save the already decaying situation, all BPL 16 teams are set to benefit nothing from the television right deal.
The premier league which is affiliated to BFA signed a five year contract with Department of Broadcasting Services (DBS). Three of the five years had cash benefit while the last 2 years come with nothing. It is noted that clubs are bolting as they are already feeling the heat. Given the high financial demands associated with the playing in the premier league, clubs indicate with one voice that they cannot cope unless the situation changes.
Teams indicate that they are not prepared to traverse a rather uncomfortable route where a broadcaster beams their games at no costs. In fact, in the past premier league board meeting held over the weekend, they posed endless questions about a contract signed in May 2015. This publication is informed that the now under fire board chairperson Jagdish Shah was assigned to take the matter with the seriousness it deserves or the games will temporarily stop.
Some however point an accusing finger at the then premier league leadership for ‘taking eyes off the ball’ during what was seen as a gruesome phase of negotiations. WeekendSport gathers that payment terms agreed on 2015, fell with each passing football season. In the 2015-16 season BFA and DBS agreed that P8 million be generated, P7 million for the following 2016-17 season while P6 million was for this 2017-18 season. All this total P21 million for the last three years.
Nobody knows exactly why the other two seasons (2018-19 and 2019-20) are to be played without financial benefits, but corridor talks has it that this was merely a strategy to keep the long standing television broadcast channel on board so as to strengthen relations. “For the 2018-2019 and 2019-20 seasons- there shall be no payments by DBS,” reads part of the contract in clause 9. However, informants state that the premier league is busy cajoling unnamed broadcaster to produce and beam their games.
While all dynamics behind the BTV deal points to a bleak future, discussions between the two parties are however said to be ongoing to try and help the situation. Clifford Mogomotsi, a board member representing struggling Mochudi Center Chiefs said no club will be happy to play without financial benefits from the television. “Obviously no club will like to play for fun, this is a deal that has been there for some time, but they are administrators working nonstop to address it,’’ he explained.
In July of last year, both DBS and BFA were said to be comprehensively tackling the issue. Although premier league Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Thabo Ntshinogang at the time denied these proceedings, WeekendSport established that the two had previously tried to work out something. It is said there was no clear head way in manoeuvring the last two years of the contract. However, it is said Btv showed signs of willingness to adopt whatever proposal BPL might present.
Informants say the state-owned broadcast channel management has requested the local football federation to furnish them with any suggestion they feel comfortable with. Sources further claimed that premier league might now consider partnering with another television production company- a procedure that will eventually see Btv buying the production feed. This is motivated by the fact that BTV, often times, complains of lack of capacity particularly when dealing with midweek fixtures.
BTV, according to those close to developments, is ready for whatever decisions BPL takes. Their inability to broadcast a maximum of 60 games as per the contract between BPL and headline sponsors, inadvertently forces them to accept a third party, sources claim. The production quality of Btv is also a subject of heated discussion.
In the past, the premier league engaged one South African based company called RP production to work with BTV. SuperSport is another broadcaster that is highly considered in dealing with the issue of capacity. Whatever the decision, BPL management are urged to address the matter before long.
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AFRICA’S RECOVERY: Sports as game changer
The year 2022 witnessed unprecedented phenomena. Several Africans- Gotytom Gebreslase, Sharon Lokedi, Victor Kiplangat, Tamarit Tola and many others- swept the World’s marathons records.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the resulting control measures implemented in several countries, led to many high-level sports competitions being cancelled or shelved, the Dakar 2022 Youth Olympic Games was moved to 2026.
Founder and Executive Chairman, African Sports and Creative Institute, Will Mabiakop, says the inability to hold traditional and amateur sports events have had a serious effect on public health overall, including mental health, sparking a revolution whereby athletes began to talk more openly about stress, mental overload and performance anxiety.
“Africa is home to the fastest growing economies before the crisis, no longer on track to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). COVID-19 deepened interdependence between SDGs, making them harder to achieve, especially SDG 10 (reducing inequality) and SDG 5 (gender equality_ as the pandemic had a disproportionate impact on poorer countries, and heavier burdens (such as care work) fell to women.”
Mabiakop stresses that as policymakers contemplate actions to speed up recovery and build resilience, they must argue that sports and creative businesses should play a central feature in this effort.
“The sports economy worldwide is estimated at 5% of GDP, but only 0.5% in Africa. If exploited, Africa’s sports and creative industries can offer policymakers innovative solutions. Especially, as regards job creation, and providing employment to the 15 million people entering the job market annually.”
HOW CAN THE INDUSTRY DO THIS?
By leveraging the two-for-one concept: past studies shown that a 1% growth in the economy delivers a 2% job increment in this sector (these ratios are calculated using data from 48 African countries and adjusted to the reality of the sports economy in Africa by the authors). There are between 30 and 50 job types, in sports and creative industries, respectively. These jobs do not fade away with the first major shock.
Mabiakop indicated that policymakers can use these industries to tackle multiple crises- jobs, poverty, and climate risks. Sports diplomacy- defined as communication, representation and negotiation in or through the prism of sports- has proven effective in building inclusive and cohesive societies. Moreover, sports and the creative industry can support better mental health and well-being, both important for productivity.
“Policymakers can also be true to the game by leveraging culture and tradition to celebrate identity and reap commercial value in sports, textiles and jewelry. Creative sectors allow deeper connection with culture, are not easily copied and provide great economic potential.”
He said supporting grassroots sports has powerful distributional effects. “Fortunately, technology has made reaching wide audiences easier, generating higher rates of success when talent is discovered.”
However, Mabiakop held that potential pitfalls must be highlighted. “First avoid build it and they will come policies with infrastructures denuded from the rest of the ecosystem. Like the many sports stadiums left largely unused.”
“Policymakers must remain mindful of how these sectors move the needle in human capital development. Also, align the requisite public policies needed for progress from grassroots participation to professional sports, and even to international sporting events. They should also support investment instruments to render these sectors performant.”