With the new BTC Premiership season fast approaching, clubs, already reeling from financial challenges, face more belt tightening measures as the Botswana Premier League (BPL) moves to ensure sustainability in what is proving to be a harsh environment. BPL chief executive officer, Thabo Ntshinogang tells Mmegi Sport’s MQONDISI DUBE that new austerity measures should restore normalcy in the league
The Botswana Premier League (BPL) will move swiftly and introduce the Economic Control System (ECS), which will see clubs’ spending monitored and controlled according to income from next season.
The move was inspired by league’s benchmarking trip to Spain in March. BPL chief executive officer, Thabo ‘Styles’ Ntshinogang believes the system carries much of the solutions to the clubs’ financial problems.
A number of clubs were found wanting as they failed to regularly shell out players’ dues, while some could not fulfil fixtures, an embarrassing situation for a league that has set sights on turning professional.
Under the ECS, clubs would be required to produce audited financial statements, which will enable the BPL to determine their spending.
“In essence, we are saying clubs should spend within their means. They have to cut the cloth according to their size,” Ntshinogang said.
For instance, clubs will forward contracts of their players to the BPL, and if the salaries are deemed too high, the deal will be rejected.
Clubs will submit their income, including projections, which will give the BPL a picture of how much a club can spend.
Some clubs sign players but fail to honour financial obligations, which has prompted the BPL to fast track the ECS system.
Clubs that fail to comply with the ECS will face severe sanctions, and Ntshinogang, who did not mince his words, believes this is the only way to proceed.
“The BFA will come up with sanctions like barring an offending club from signing players for certain periods. The sanctions will include expelling the offenders from the league,” Ntshinogang said.
A workshop for the clubs would be held, and the ECS, combined with the Club Licensing, is expected to shine light through the beleaguered Premiership. Spanish La Liga officials will fly into the country to conduct workshops as the ECS has been effective in their league.
“Sanctions are going to be harsh. We are also going to enforce the Compliance Manual in the new season.”
Next season, clubs will have full control of a fixture, which includes ticketing, an issue, which stood out like a sore thumb in the past campaign.
“We will give clubs full responsibility for ticketing. All
Ntshinogang said while the season’s highlight was finishing within the stipulated time, there were lows, which included fixture challenges, ticketing and teams failing to honour games.
“We had problems with Molepolole (Sports Complex) due to floodlights. As a result, we had to fixture the clubs during the day in midweek, which affected attendance.
“Our clubs failed to meet their commitments to players, which saw some failing to raise a team,” he said. Gaborone United and Gilport Lions were the hardest hit.
As clubs prepare for belt tightening, there is depressing news that for the next two years, the broadcasting rights deal with the Btv would be cashless.
Btv signed a five-year deal with the Botswana Football Association (BFA), with the remaining two being cashless.
“We have been using the television rights funds for administration costs. For the next season, there is no money and it is going to be very difficult if we don’t get funding. There will be no benefit for us, except that the league will be on television. We are working around the clock to ensure that it is a cash deal,” Ntshinogang said.
He said the league balance sheet is looking healthier than when he took over two years ago when it was P6 million in the red.
“We have managed to reduce the deficit to around P1.5 million. We assessed our financial situation and agreed on cost cutting measures. We cut grants and maintained them at the level of our BTC sponsorship, until we get money from other sources. We had overcommitted. We cut salaries for our staff but we did not retrench. We have been prudent, even on little spending. We expect to break even at the end of next season,” Ntshinogang said.
He said it was imperative that all clubs pull in the same direction if the Premiership brand has to progress.
“The BPL is not the office but all the 16 clubs. They should respect the brand.”