The elite league and headline sponsors, Botswana Telecommunication Corporation (BTC), are reported to have negotiated and agreed an improved P40 million sponsorship deal, and an announcement is anticipated to be made in the next few days.
Highly placed sources, both at the league house and BTC boardrooms are optimist that a three year contract will be signed before the second week of August. It is indicated that BTC has shown a measure of seriousness to commit to BPL, although the sponsors were not shy to remonstrate their disappointment about dwindling numbers at the stadiums.
Information gleaned from the two parties indicates that BTC has agreed to increase sponsorship finances from P10 million to P13 million per season. It is said a million pula from the new offer will be set aside to cover the charity cup- which is still a subject of discussion between the two parties, sources say.
In essence sponsorship money over a period of three years is believed to be 36 million pula for the entire premier league teams, while 3 million pula, if agreed, will cater for the envisaged charity cup. The remaining 1 million pula will be spread across to increase the club’s monthly grants. It is also said, the winning prize money will remain unchanged at 1 million pula.
Botswana Premier League (BPL) acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Thabo Ntshinogang would not be drawn into discussing the development with this publication when contacted for comment. “Honestly, I cannot discuss such a sensitive issue with the media now. It is best you wait for the official announcement,” he said. Sources close to the developments however indicate that BTC is set to get value for their money particularly with the charity cup. According to sources, this is will be the first sensible opportunity for football followers to play an integral role in voting for teams to participate at the expected 1 day event. Information suggests that 4 top teams with a higher number of votes will be eligible to participate. Although not confirmed, it is said fans will be allowed to vote using BTC lines only.
If everything goes according to the script, the two partners will want to see the 1 day tournament played in December. The premier league is said to be represented by agents called Vivd Ltd. The board of governors which comprises of 16 premier league chairpersons is expected to be briefed on the new developments with the local network giants. Head of Sponsorships & Consumer Public Relations at the Megaleng house, Tiro Kganela declined to comment on the issue saying was on leave. However Golekanye Chaba Molapisi, BTC Public Relations Manager when reached for comment said, “The parties (BTC and BFA) have been in contact to evaluate the three year sponsorship which ended last month. Stakeholders including media will be updated of any developments in due course.”
BTC has over the years, left a trail of lasting legacy with the local league. Although, time and again, the two parties battled misunderstandings regarding some certain terms and conditions of the past contracts, a common ground has always been reached for the betterment of the local game.
Just after Mascom exited the football scene in 2008, BTC then trading as be- MOBILE came in with a sponsorship value of P5 million. Throughout the years, the sponsors always found it fit to increase finances. In 2011-12, after the first contract expired, the local net work giants increased sponsorship to P8 million for the next three years. In 2014, they reached the P10 million mark.
The negotiations involving Botswana Football Association (BFA) and Kgalagadi Breweries Limited (KBL) over elite league sponsorship have suffered a setback as the local brewer this week took what it termed a ‘difficult’ decision to shut down operations.
This effectively means that football sponsorship is back in its dark corner as all efforts to go back to the field take another nasty twist in the midst of ravaging COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is regrettable that this latest total ban on alcohol sales has resulted in the suspension of KBL operations, which will remain in place for as long as the alcohol ban persists. KBL continues its efforts to engage government on this critical issue, which is having an enormous impact on the industry and its extensive value chain,” the company explained.
Although not proudly maintained at Lekidi Football Centre, the company is said to have abandoned talks on explanations revolving around ‘lack of funds.’In the initial agreement, sources say that it was settled that KBL would sponsor the Botswana Football League at a tune of P30million for a period of three years.
It is maintained that the deal was to be relooked and redefined to fit the sponsorship modalities of today’s game.Highly placed sources speaking with this publication however state that BFA is assisting BFL to cajole other companies to come on board as football is about to return to the field.
Top of the list is ABSA Bank who have remained afloat despite the impacts of the virus. The bank is said to be committed to football but sources say it will take a considerable amount of persuasion to see the bank increasing sponsorship.
KBL, in the first phase, were willing to commit without much difficulties but after the storm of COVID-19, the company was to take a back seat and played a waiting game. They reasoned that the continuous lockdown the country has gone under has left them with little income than expected.
But according to sources, KBL is still expressing pleasure to engage with the association again and will further illustrate their willingness to come on board as soon as the corona virus situation subsides.It is said KBL has requested further information regarding sponsorship value from the association and once satisfied, negotiations will resume.
However, some administrators within the National Executive Committee believe KBL’s parting message does not inspire confidence. “KBL‘s phase is over, they gave us hope but it is difficult to keep track of them, COVID-19 has affected every plan,” one member shared.
At the close last season, way before the corona virus impacted the country negatively; BFA revealed that it had long compiled its situation analysis of sponsorship value for the local game. It was understood that the property that is the Premier League could be purchased at a value P 15 million over 43 premier league games.
Botswana Football Association (BFA) President, Maclean Letshwiti.
Botswana Football Association (BFA) is engaged in protracted talks to stage a mini-league as lee-way to ascend into a proper football season by August this year.
The idea is to keep players fit and all football structures functioning as time pressure mounts.Informants say the idea is discussed at the competition office and will soon be forwarded to the National Executive Committee (NEC) for further deliberations.
This therefore means that all leagues across the country will be played for only one round until August where a new full football season will resume. Football has never returned to the field for almost 10 months now due to the corona virus.
The situation on the ground looks gloomy as COVID-19 cases continue to rise with each passing day. Football clubs are also feeling the pinch with Sua Flamingos becoming the latest victims. The club has been forced to suspend operations as players and members of the technical team test positive for the deadly virus.
While playing a mini-league is a last resort, it is mentioned that no team will be promoted or relegated after the completion of the games.Sources say it is better than folding arms when teams are continuing to pay players without kicking the ball.
The idea of the mini-league therefore means that there will be no prize money but teams will likely survive with grants from identifiable sponsors. Already, the Botswana Football League (BFL) has secured a P 5 million television deal for over three years.
The BFL think tanks contemplate to augment the television deal with sponsorship grants from ABSA bank. According to information, this will keep the league and its secretariat running until everything gets back to normalcy.
“It is true we are thinking to stage a mini league looking at what we have but this is still an infant idea, we are discussing and we will engage NEC going forward,” a member of the association shared.BFA leadership finds itself stuck between a rock and a hard place as the motion to kick start the league in February was shot down by the assembly in October of last year.
The movers of the motion argued that high temperatures usually recorded in the South of Sahara desert negatively affects player performance and their overall health conditions. However, there were intentions to commence the league at the earliest possible time but the task force together with the Ministry of Sport wanted players to be tested and football fields be fumigated regularly to avoid spreading the virus.
Early this week, the BFL leadership engaged the Footballers Union of Botswana (FUB) to give an update on how football will return. However, this publication cannot adequately establish the detailed plan of the league.
Boteti based side, Orapa United were quick to snatch back Zebras left-back, Lesenya Ramoraka, tying him with a two-year deal after he was released this week by TS Galaxy.
The 26 year-old defender left The Ostriches in 2018 to join Highlands Park who later sold their status last year to renowned football agent Tim Sukazi of TS Galaxy. Ramoraka’s contract was to end this year July.
At the time of the sale, the team then opted not to register him for another season hoping to register him in the January transfer but his injury kept him out for longer than anticipated, forcing TS Galaxy to release him as he was free to start to negotiate with any team that may be interested in him.
“We have signed Ramoraka after assessing his injury and he is in Orapa as we speak doing his rehab.The injury is not bad and we expect him to resume light training anytime from mid- February,” said Kabo William, the club spokesperson.
Ramoraka left an impressive mark at Highlands Park where he played 29 games in all competitions and netting only once. Lee, as he is known in football circles, is one of the most trusted left backs in the country and has been a vital part of the Zebras with his absence felt at the national team.
“The team had wanted to keep him but they were just concerned that his injury was taking long to heal and they opted to release him as you cannot have a player out for too long more especially who is a foreigner,” said a source.
“He had survived the changes at the team and you have to also note that the coach who brought him, Owen Da Gama also just joined TS Galaxy and he is one of the players that he trusted and used so it is not a matter of performance but they couldn’t afford to have him on the side-lines for too long.”
Orapa United have also announced the signing of other players that include; Thabiso Boti formerly with Notwane, Kutlo Kolagano from City Eagles, Galagwe Moyana who was released by Township Rollers, Kagisano Mungu from TAFIC and the team promoted Phemelo Pushudi from their development side.
The Ostriches have released goalkeeper Bophelo Kealeboga who has signed a 2 year deal with Sua Flamingos, Mothusi Johnson who retraced his steps back to Gaborone United, Baboloki Makhura and Abdullah Hamisi.