PALAPYE: Out-of-contract players from various clubs across the local leagues face a cold end to the season, with football only expected to return next year.
The Botswana Football Association (BFA) has hinted the league might kick-off next year February. The out-of-contract players face an anxious wait before their next pay cheque.
Footballers Union of Botswana (FUB), however, has negotiated with the BFA for the players’ financial relief.
FUB president, Onalethata Tshekiso said the association could assist through relief funds from FIFA. The Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development recently aided players with three months allowances. Indefinite delay of activities due to the pandemic compound the situation.
Some teams have already released the players, but the transfer window remains closed. “We are expecting that the BFA through FIFA and CAF COVID-19 relief funds would aid players with allowances until the time the transfer window is open for them to start making their moves,” Tshekiso said.
He added the agreement was that the funds would be channelled through the clubs the players were previously contracted to.
Most of the contracts expired in June. Clubs have been equally affected by the inactivity and face financial challenges.
Clubs have delayed offering players new contracts due to uncertainties over the start of the new season. Township Rollers and new kids on the Premiership block, Sua Flamingoes recently moved to freeze existing contracts, but would continue
Mahalapye Railways Highlanders’ 13 out of their squad of 26 players are out of contract. The club’s general manager, Ernest Oabile said they had interest in keeping some of the players, but could not commit to new contracts under the current situation. He said the current situation had brought confusion and they had approached FUB to assist. He said it was difficult for the sponsor to continue paying players without contracts.
“We wish to renew some (contracts), but at the moment the situation does not allow. We hope to get assistance from FUB on how we can handle the situation,” Oabile said.
“We might also move to freeze the contracts of the other 13 players we still have on contract and assist them with allowances like other clubs until we get a date for resumption of football activities,” he added. Flamingoes have released four players that were out of contract, and the rest of the squad signed new deals.
“It is a bad situation for everyone. We were faced with difficult situations on renewing the contracts in this period, but our good relationship with the players pulled us through. They were understanding,” Flamingoes chairperson, Tirelo Thebe said.