A cloud of total upheaval is about to befall the once mighty Gaborone United Sporting Club as their long time financier, Nicholas Zackhem, prepares to cut ties with the team this coming Wednesday.
Reports of divorce between the two long surfaced in January this year and the team top brass preferred to be tight lipped on the matter. Sources then revealed that the club was sitting on a time ticking bomb that could explode anytime, their words have since materialized following this past Wednesday meeting between the two where the construction magnate vehemently defended his stance of leaving the club.
Impeccable sources have revealed to this publication that the club’s top hierarchy has been in a series of meetings with the business magnate, with the hope to coerce him to change his mind about leaving, albeit without success.
“Zack is unmoved, he made up his mind and the efforts made in our meetings have hit the brick wall,” a source said. It is said that he slapped the Okaile led committee with a letter reminding them of his resignation in one of the meetings where they tried to sweet talk him.
“At this time I am not in a position to share anything with you, I really don’t think I could be of any use right now maybe sometime but not now,” said the embattled GU Chairman, Rapula Okaile on Thursday.
Zackhem who was the mastermind behind Okaile’s ascension to the club’s influential post last year July by “sponsoring his campaign”, is reportedly vexed by a number of issues which sources say, are internal fights within the Old Naledi outfit. “Though he seems hurt he says the reasons for the departure are internal affairs within the team.”
Information before Weekendsport shows a fallout between the two forces which emerged after Okaile assumed office; and tried to balance things by consulting with other members of the society; something that was not tolerated by the financier.
“Remember Rapula was under pressure that he wasn’t the legitimate chair of the team and he tried to engage the society lot who were decrying alienation,” a source further stated, “But this angered Zack who felt he was not the kingpin as he used to be hence he decided to pack his bags.”
Some of the issues that the members of the society were consulted on included – the transactions of the club; the hiring of personnel, which in the past was done single handedly by Soccer Dynamics – Zackhem’ s extension company which was running the affairs of the club.
The raging fires within the 2008/09 league champions has left the Reds treading on thin ice, in fact, financial doldrums are said to be inevitable.
The business mogul’s imminent departure has left a gloomy picture for the team as Mutual & Federal; a sponsor who is said to have been lured by the millionaire businessman is expected to leave when the deal elapses this coming season. The sponsorship which was signed in 2014 saw GU getting P1.2 million each season for three seasons.
The thunderstorm that has struck the team is said to have affected players. “Of course they are worried though we have calmed them,” the sources said, “the likes of Shilongo are watching and chances of renewing his deal are as best as zero.” The money machine had drafted a long term strategy of winning the league next season by making some big signings targeting the likes of Tapiwa Gadibolae and Lemponye Tshireletso but it appears the plan will be aborted following the recent developments at the club.
WHERE IS HE GOING?
With Zackhem leaving the team he has been with for over two decades, it is believed he is headed to Gilport Lions, a team owned by his ‘friend’, Kelesitse Gilika.
It is said, having ‘spearheaded’ commercialization at GU he is willing to only invest in a viable structure similar to that of Gilika. Those closer to the businessman maintain that Gilport Lions is the destination of choice, quashing reports of possible marriage with Notwane.
“It is clear he is going to Gilport Lions,” a source told Weekendsport. Zackhem has came out as a clear admirer of the team having found a P6 million investor for them early this year, he is expected to either partner with Gilika or buy a stake in the team.
This paper’s attempts to solicit comment from Zackhem were futile as his mobile number rang unanswered.
The Manchester United defender will now focus on his club career having made 93 caps for France, appearing at three world cups and on European championship. The Les Bleus won the World cup in 2018 and Raphael Varane started all but one of France’s matches in Qatar as they finished as runners up to Argentina
With many being of the view that the state of football in Botswana has deteriorated significantly as it is no longer appealing to the business community, this was a good week for the football community. The Botswana Football Association (BFA) leadership under the stewardship of MacLean Letshwiti secured sponsorship for a combined value of P19. 3 million for the FA Cup competition and the First Division league – both South and North.