It has since emerged that Botswana Premier League players across the sixteen club stream will need a total of P 2.5 million per month from the COVID -19 relief fund to sustain themselves. This comes to the fore following BPL’s submission of club wage bills to the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development.
The uncontrollable spread of coronavirus across the globe has forced football into sudden lockdown with Botswana players also now feeling the pinch. It is said that Township Rollers has the highest salary bill of about P 400 000 while Gilport Lions comes last with close to P 100 000 bill. Actually sources say, Lions have a unique case. All players under this club have no basic pay. All are paid commissions and bonuses after every match.
Close to 500 players are set to benefit but the number can decrease depending on the assessment of the tax man. It is indicated that clubs and players who have been dodging the tax man might pay the penalty or suffer related consequences thereof. However, the association has dismissed such information claiming that some people have serious agendas of defaming what is seen as a good initiative by the government.
One of BFA’s rank and file member Setete Phuthego says, “We should understand that this is a government’s idea of helping its people. We all know that players are longer active as football had stopped long ago.” He added, “Everybody is going to benefit and the government will want us to account thereafter.”It is not clear if government has included the technical staff.
The Ministry of Sport undertakes this exercise to discourage clubs from giving players pay cuts or terminating their contracts under the pretext of corona virus.It is without a doubt that COVID -19 has cut blood veins of players as all football leagues across the globe have been suspended. However, Footballers Union Botswana (FUB) is anticipated to play a starring role in the midst of this uncertainty- the first of its kind in footballing halls of home soils.
Various teams are still confused as the coronavirus runs rampage. Clubs, before the Ministry’s pronouncement, were seen to be ready to implement pay cuts because of lack of gate takings. Only BDF XI had written to FUB with assurance that they will continue to pay their players. The situation, even without government intervention, was not to harm players from BDF XI, Police XI, Orapa United, Jwaneng Galaxy and Prisons XI. These clubs might be joined by Gaborone United and, of course, Township Rollers.
However, FUB remains steadfast that players must be paid without negotiations. They pointed out that players have the right to terminate their contracts if their salaries are withheld.
“Our position is simple, players must be paid. Clubs usually pay players during off seasons without complaints…why not now?” Kgosana Masaseng, the Secretary General of the Union shared. He added that players are however ready to negotiate pay cuts only after three months.
Athletics is one of the sporting activities that for many years has been consistently performing extremely well in international competitions. One of the reasons is the availability of qualified and experienced coaches, who have been working tirelessly on the ground to ensure that they scout talent and develop more athletes.
For the first time after eons, football clubs plying their trade in the elite league are walking in the shadow of the undefined with nothing concrete agreed and on sight before the commencement of the football season.