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Is it poor sport marketing or unattractive league?


Botswana football has experienced transformation in the last few years with the league being able to attract significant sponsorship deals. Despite the league attracting lucrative sponsorship deals, the same cannot be said about the clubs, as they continue to face severe financial difficulties season after another. Staff Writer ALFRED MASOKOLA offers insights on how Botswana football fraternity can make a huge leap in creating new sources of revenues.


Botswana’s economy is classified as middle upper economy and has performed significantly well since the country gained independence. Between 1980 and 1990 Botswana had one of the fastest growing economies in the world with growth averaging over 10 percent per year.

Today, Botswana still has a stable economy, but surprisingly some neighbouring countries with inferior economy have managed to attract sponsors from the corporate world to pour money into their football fraternity, which has helped to surge the standard football and players’ welfare.


TV rights deal
The world over, TV rights have taken centre stage as one of the largest source of revenue in football and other sporting activities. In today’s world no matter the good attendance, gate takings cannot cover the cost associated with running football clubs.

There was an attempt to construct a meaningful TV deal with both Botswana Television (Btv) and Super Sport but ultimately, the deal brought nothing substantive forward.  Btv is a television owned by state, which should be an easier partner to convince to splash money on local football.

Currently Btv pays BPL P6 million as television rights to broadcast the league games. Since 2008, government has spent over P100million in constituency football, a handsome amount but hardly with visible gains on the ground.

Assuming that such amount was spent on professional football since 2008,  huge progress would have been observed. Botswana Premier League can astutely convince government through Btv to purchase TV rights at a lucrative price, say, P40 million per season.

Like in the English Premier League, the amount will then be distributed in a strategic manner; P20 million being shared equally by the 16 clubs, while the other P20 million is divided based on merit, thus each team’s position on the log in the preceding season.

This will not only improve the standard of the league, or benefit the football players alone-it will also be a plus for the government since it will create new jobs in clubs’ office administrations. The BPL will then have to introduce mandatory development leagues for all 16 league teams.    


Sponsorship
 The biggest sponsorship in local league history was a P15 million deal with network giant beMobile in 2008. The deal was later extended on improved terms in 2011, and 2014 with the sponsor splashing P24 million and P30 million respectively. So far, the beMobile deal has a worth of P69 million over a period of 9 years.

This is a good development for the league, however the same cannot be said about individual clubs. Very few have managed to secure sponsorship, and most of the time the deals are not lucrative. Township Rollers has secured a deal with Capital Bank for an undisclosed fee, similarly with Mochudi Centre Chiefs and Vega while Gaborone United has had a deal with Old Mutual since 2013. 

While other teams have struggled to secure sponsorship deals from local companies, the big three; Rollers, Chiefs and GU are backed by the ownership arrangement as they have signed with wealthy individuals in the past few years, an olive branch which has eluded most of the teams in the league.


Improved league standard
The problem might be how our football fraternity conducts its sport marketing since it is not a matter of an entirely unattractive league. Botswana’s football standard has improved in the last decades and local players have gone to look for greener pastures outside and performed well. 

Home grown players like Mogogi Gabonamong, Joel Mogorosi, Modiri Marumo, Tsotso Ngele to mention but a few have had impressive stints in the neighbouring South Africa Premier Soccer Leauge (PSL), a sure sign that our league is competitive enough. Other foreign players like Terrence Mandanza, and Tendai Ndoro, who had stints in BPL before looking else are also a reference to the quality of the league.


Opportunities
Why is it that the league teams are being eluded by lucrative local deals? There are many companies operating in Botswana which are multinational and are known to be associated with football or sport sponsorship in other countries. Barclays Bank has the most lucrative deal in the world with English Premier League worth £120 million (P1.8 billion) in three seasons. They were previous reports that Barclays will take over as the new BPL sponsor last season, but nothing has materialised. 

Standard Charted, one of the first foreign banks in Botswana sponsors Premier League giants Liverpool which was initially launched in 2010 and has since been extended with a further three years. In 2010 the agreement was worth £60 million (p915million) over three seasons.

Other corporate giants operating in Botswana with sports or football deals in other countries include Hollard (not main sponsor) which sponsors Kaizer Chiefs, AON, which sponsored Manchester United previous seasons. Others include Engine, SAMSUNG, and Nokia just to mention a few. In Botswana this corporate entities have been reluctant to sponsor football, despite their still being dominant players in the market.


Government policy intervention
In other countries, governments offer tax incentives to corporate entities that significantly support sport with lucrative deals. Botswana should do the same. The football fraternity should influence government policies in such a way that it would greatly improve football in Botswana, especially in monetary terms. For instance, companies like Barclays, FNB e.t.c that pay taxes of over P300 million annually, may be enticed with introduction of tax incentives for sponsoring sporting activities in Botswana.

For instance, a sponsorship worth P10 million per year may be set up as a minimum threshold to qualify for government tax incentives. This would change the fortunes of football in Botswana and lead to transformations that will greatly inspire growth in the sporting fraternity, including creation of jobs for the benefit of the government.

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Sport

Rakgare addresses BFA presidential candidates

21st September 2020
Minister Tumiso Rakgare

Amid the confusion surrounding the date of the Botswana Football Association (BFA) elections, the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Tumiso Rakgare, met with three presidential candidates on Thursday morning to discuss a plethora of problems bedevilling the domestic game.

The candidates are Maclean Letshwiti, the current President, Tebogo Sebego, the firm challenger of the BFA throne, together with Ookeditse Malesu who enters the race for the first time in his sporting career. There were other two unnamed officials who are said to be representatives from the sport ministry.

The Sport minister is said to have adopted a hard-nosed approach to register his disappointment and worry that the uncertainty of the upcoming elections have injured the administration of the local game.

Highly placed sources at the Sport ministry say that the minister’s ‘no gloves barred’ approach comes at the behest of the BFA’s constant negative headlines regarding their leadership style as of going into the elections.

It is said that Rakgare was also worried that the current administration is keeping the other two camps in the dark regarding the planning and processes bordering on election issues. This, he said has led to unnecessary speculations and back biting that is not needed to lift the game at a time when it is on its knees.

He was to rattle a few feathers at one incident when he called all the three leaders of the game to put their houses in order. As if that was not enough, the minister called on the three lobby groups to desist from serving personal interests but put focus on developing the game.

Interestingly, sources point out that the minister was livid but urged both Letshwiti and Sebego groups to refrain from tarnishing the good image of the ministry. This, he said in response to wide ranging allegations that he is taking sides as campaigns are ongoing.

The Sebego group accuses him of de campaigning Sebego and having a soft spot for Team Letshwiti while the same Letshwiti group is saying the same thing about the minister as having taking curious interest in Sebego camp.

The minister is alleged to have told the leaders that if they do not change their leadership style of protecting those looting public funds, his ministry would intervene even if it means attracting the wrath of FIFA, which is known for its notorious sanctions when countries do not toe the line. He urges BFA to be accountable at all the times they will cut the annual subventions that goes to them, sources claim.

This is not for the first time that the BFA was lectured on good governance. At one incident in 2015, former Minster of Sport Thapelo Olopeng dressed down the then Tebogo Sebego leadership regarding good governance.

BFA was at the time closely monitored by the ministry. Instead of the usual transactions that normally go through BFA, national team players received their allowances straight from government in the form of cheques. To demonstrate that government has taken a firm stand against BFA, players’ allowances were no longer routed through the association.

Nobody from the said meeting will address this publication enquiry all indicating that the consultation is never meant for public consumption.

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Sport

Virtual meet for BFA elections

21st September 2020
Malesu

If everything goes according to plan, the Botswana Football Association (BFA) will hold its annual general assembly next month through a virtual conference.

There has been much uncertainty as to how and when the congress will be held seeing as how COVID-19 protocols remain stringent on gatherings.

Sources speaking with this publication say the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the association has agreed to hold the congress within COVID-19 zones, consequently dispelling all the lingering doubts surrounding the life and soul of the assembly.

As it stands, there are nine COVID -19 zones in Botswana. The association is therefore contemplating to rely within four zones where live streaming will take centre stage for the first time in the history of BFA elections.

The congress was first billed for August 8th but was postponed to August 22nd. However, the second date could not see the light of the day as the country recorded a second rise of coronavirus cases that promptly led to greater Gaborone going into yet another lockdown.
BFA President: Letshwiti
The association has been procrastinating over the virtual congress idea with the election agenda remaining a sticky issue. Many advices came flooding that the association is free to make any decision about the congress but should be very careful not to compromise the integrity of the vote.

Sources indicate to this paper that the association is likely to rely on four COVID-19 zones, namely Gaborone, Francistown, Jwaneng and Palapye. The need to plant the meeting on virtual technologies hinges on the fact that the COVID -19 health protocols do not permit people to cross zones to hold meetings.

Information gleaned from various sources is that the association is looking to rely on four zones primarily because of the limited number of personnel under the electoral board. There are five members consisting of this committee and by the look of things; the association will not be allowed to outsource more election overseers at the eleventh hour.  Sources argue that the whole cautious exercise is meant to avoid complaints that may arise after elections are held.

The virtual meeting comes after many failed attempts by the association to convince the Kereng Masupu led Task Force to give out a special dispensation.  On many occasions, the Task Force refused to allow for the assembly to go on saying “football is not a priority.”

The assembly is expected to be held next month but the exact date still remains a subject of speculation. In the end, Tebogo Sebego will stand again for the second time to unseat Maclean Letshwiti while Ookeditse Malesu is standing for the first time to try and wrestle for BFA power.

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Sport

Talks to merge BNOC, BNSC resurface

14th September 2020
BNOC,BNSC merge

The Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Tumiso Rakgare, is eager to lead crunch talks that will consequently see Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) and Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) becoming one authoritative sport entity.

The appointment of one Tuelo Serufho to the plum position of BNSC Chief Executive Officer two week ago has further catalysed the intention to merge the sports bodies to avoid the long standing complaints of duplication of roles by the two.

Serufho was replacing Falcom Sedimo whose contract was not renewed.Serufho, ironically is the longest serving CEO of BNOC and also a board member of BNSC.“One of our aims is to form a robust sport body to centralize and improve decision making processes and maybe the time to resuscitate BNSC/BNOC merger is now,” Rakgare briefly shared.

The impending move is highly meant to improve effective functioning, governance and performance of sports in the country both locally and globally.Should this see the light of day, Botswana would have done itself a favour and it would start sending a handful of athletes to international competitions.

The amalgamation of BNSC/BNOC talks have been in the pipelines but discussions were aborted two years ago without clear reasons. The creation of this all-encompassing sport institution is overdue according to the minister.

“It is in fact our mandate to make sure this happens, it is overdue and by next year we hope to have finalised our position paper,” Rakgare added.The creation of the looming body is borne out of lessons learnt from various sports governance models around the world.

In South Africa, the sports ministry facilitated discussions to merge National Olympic Committee of South Africa (NOCSA) and the South African Sports Commission. Their authoritative sports body is now called South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC).

With the South African model well in place, Botswana is urged to bench mark and create a sport body as a civic society-based organisation as required by the statutes of international sports bodies.The name of the local sport body is mooted and the minister refused to give a hint. But he is optimistic that the body will be the vanguard organization of sport in the country.

He emphasized that the sports organisation should be a purposeful guardian for governance and management of sports and be the required defining figure of the role of sports in Botswana’s communities.Talks to revamp and rebuild these sports bodies come at a time when BNSC is restructuring.

When Sedimo was still at the helm, he wanted to phase out some positions which he felt were unnecessary.BNSC receive close to 53 million Pula as grants from the government through the Ministry of Youth, Sports development and Culture empowerment while BNOC takes a figure a closer to that.

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