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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

Is Rollers-Gunners still a blockbuster affair?

25th October 2021

The 2021-22 football season has finally arrived. It does not come at a better time than this one after two years of no action.  With the tune changing around football circles, a game between Township Rollers and Extension Gunners will never go unnoticed in the calendar of Botswana football.

The two teams, which enjoy the largest following in Botswana, are billed to headline the start of the season. The fixture, however, comes after almost two years without playing football, and it is still unknown if they still carry the same significance and meaning in the future of Botswana football. With many followers ready to quench their football thirst, all eyes, however, will be on rather what happens than who wins the match.

Forget about the comparison that continuously stirs followers` minds about which player is better than the other. While Rollers speedy winger Edwin Moalosi and Extension Gunner’s pacey recruit, Lesego Lubinda, are likely to determine the game’s outcome, the instrumental men happen to be in the midst of the park. The two teams are about to embark on a story where Rollers have already been labelled as potential league champions because of their massive recruitment. At the same time, Gunners are relegation candidates following a lacklustre performance in the transfer market.

The Peleng outfit started preparation very late, with speculations of an absent chairman not inspiring confidence. The question is whether the fixture between the two sides is as prominent as it used to be? The fixture had the duo of former Rollers man Lawrence Majawa and Captain Maano Ditshupo ruling the midfield whenever Kenny Pilatwe and Lesego Molemogi faced them. Yet, there is striking mutual respect between them and a similarity that, for all the focus on goalscorers, may make them the central actors in the drama expected to unfold next weekend at the National Stadium.

Many new faces have come out. Rollers still have Ditshupo, Segolame Boy and Lemponye Tshireletso, while Gunners will enter the field with recruits but have veteran player Dirang Moloi in their mix. These are the players who used to face each other in the heart of midfield, the men entrusted with bringing an identity to their teams, whose job it is not just to play better; and make others play well.

Rollers Captain Maano Ditshupo is likely to continue his dominance to bring out the team’s ideologue — bright, opinionated and analytical, the man; former Rollers head coach Nicola Kavazovic once said of him: “I cannot imagine Popa without him.” On the other side, Gunners’ Moloi is the man who will do the bidding on the pitch for Gunners – intelligent, communicative, quietly authoritative, bringing calm to a team that plays at breakneck speed.

Both groups of midfielders from these teams are undoubtedly natural talents: insightful and passionate about the game, awe at the passion it provokes and assured how it can be played. They are teammates and former fellow travellers for the Zebras.  During the past season, Rollers coaches said Segolame Boy, another instrumental midfielder, was his best player of the campaign. And Gunners coaches, on the other hand, have merely avoided rotations on, but when big games come, it is Moloi he seeks to protect first.

For Maano and Rollers, it is a matter of beginning a new formula in a new revolution in his role. As he embraced it, he had not failed it. Moloi might seem fatigued, but his dangerous moves on the last third of Rollers might still haunt the Gaborone West giants. Boy will be key in orchestrating final passes to the top man, but even if he is not there, Lemponye Tshireletso can equally put up with the role. The question then is whose role will prosper.

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Sport

BNSC grants BFL P4million  

25th October 2021

Botswana Football League (BFL) has successfully secured a P4 million grant from the Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) in a move aimed at kicking start the elite league by next week. As early as last week, BFL new board started knocking on the doors of BNSC, applying for a P4 million grant as the struggle to bring football from the edges of death continues.

Sources who spoke to this publication indicate that the newly assembled board of the league, led by Nicolas Zakhem, has managed to convince the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development to play a pivotal role in nurturing and cultivating football in financial terms. However, there is an expected backlash from BNSC as other sporting codes would want the same treatment in the future.

It is reported that BFL is not expected to pay back the money as it comes as a grant. The BFL has also successfully lobbied Botswana Football Association (BFA) to source a loan of equal amount from FIFA. The thinking inside the BFL board is that FIFA loan must be repaid with the grant from the BNSC to avoid running a company with debts just from the beginning.

The BFL board met on Wednesday to ask for P1 million advancement from BFA to put in place logistics surrounding the return of the league. It is further reported that the money will be paid as soon as available sponsors transact their part to the BFL.  The anticipation finally is enormous after the board approved fixtures to kick start the league by the 29th of October, a few days after all players take their jab.

According to the Sport Ministry and other stakeholders, part of the impetus for vaccinating players is that sport events are quick spreaders; hence players could unknowingly spread the virus to other people. However, observers now believe that the country has gone one step further combating the virus through vaccination. Testing is no longer a major problem. Zakhem, the chairman of BFL, explained that it was necessary to delay the commencement of the league until all players were vaccinated and when all stakeholders were on the same page with developments surrounding football.

“You will see that it was wise to wait a bit to bring everyone on board; all players need to be vaccinated, even supporters have to come back to make a perfect advertisement for football in the eyes of the sponsors,” said Zakhem. The domestic league was halted in April 2019, and a decision was taken to crown the team that occupied first place, Jwaneng Galaxy.

Furthermore, three teams lying at the bottom of the table were relegated, and clubs in pole positions from Debswana First Division North and South saw themselves gaining promotion to the elite league. By all accounts, the association felt it was a controversial option to undertake but also fairer for the sake of progress.

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Sport

Sebego challenges BFA constitution

13th October 2021
Tebogo Sebego

Botswana Football Association (BFA) constitution appears to be under heavy scrutiny as Tebogo Sebego, the president of Notwane Sporting club, questions its authenticity, with strong indications that several clauses were removed and others added without the input of the General Assembly.

Sebego, who vied for the BFA presidency in October 2020, feels Notwane is a bonafide member of BFA and has been participating in the past three BFA assemblies but cannot be part of the mess that the club and others did not create. On 13th September 2021, Notwane forwarded a complaint letter to the football association’s chief executive officer (CEO), challenging how two constitutions were amended.

The club says a constitution dated 25th June 2021 and the other bearing a stamp of 10th December 2020 were amended under fraudulent circumstances and want an explanation on how it transpired. “We have recently received a constitution dated 25th June 2021 stamped by the registrar of societies. The said constitution carries some changes that were never discussed and voted upon at the BFA general assembly.

Of particular interest, we have noted that the following new amendments, Article 33 of the 2016 constitution, is replaced by article 30. The procedure has been reduced, but the principles remain the same. The relevance of this is to restate the constitutional culture and mandatory powers of the General Assembly as the sole body responsible for constitutional amendments,” part of the letter seen by this publication reads.

Article 33 that Sebego complains of reads thus, “The general assembly is responsible for amending the constitution and the standing orders of the general assembly.” Furthermore, Notwane argues that another article (22.1) of the 2021 constitution then wipes off the presence of 16 delegates from the Premier League clubs and eight representatives from the first division together with their voting rights.

The club believes that while the autonomy of the Botswana Football League (BFL) was approved in the 2020 General Assembly, the assembly never discussed, voted or approved the removal of delegates from the General Assembly. The team believes that the amendments are therefore unlawful for lack of authority from the General Assembly. This is the case because it has a significant impact on the landscape of the structure of the General Assembly, Notwane argues.

Moreover, Notwane’s shock is skyrocketing, especially when raising another equally screaming change in the constitution. In the letter state, the club states that article 33.4 of the 2021 constitution introduces a term limit for the president. The club speculates that the amendment seems to be carried from the 2019 version of the constitution, and whatever its genesis, the matter was never before the General Assembly.

“It is only the General Assembly that has powers, through the right constitutional channels to introduce a limitation on the term of the president and further to define the limitation based on the reasons presented to it,” the argument goes on. The old constitution was limited to at most two terms, but it seems the president can now enjoy the third term.

Sebego and Notwane argue that they have raised these articles to demonstrate that the constitution was amended without following due process in an unconstitutional, unlawful and somewhat fraudulent manner. They say this 2021 constitution and that of the 2019 version are, in their view, unlawful documents and should be reversed without delay.

The complaint letter was also copied to the Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) desk and the registrar of societies — an organisation that issued a stamp on the constitutions in question. Notwane, in a parting shot, wants to be furnished with minutes that allowed the constitutional changes because, to their understanding, there was none.

It has come to the attention of this publication that Notwane had given the BFA head of secretariat seven days to have replied, but nothing has come out. However, neither party was available for comment as the paper was going to print.

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