Elite clubs across the country are faced with high costs ahead of returning to competitive play following a lengthy period on the side-lines. On Wednesday, the government lifted a ban on competitive sport, giving the green light for the return of football competitions for the first time in 15 months.
The return will ‘hurt’ clubs as they are expected to dig deep into their already depleted pockets. Most clubs rely on gate takings for their income but that source has long dried. Mmegi Sport has been informed clubs are required to do a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) COVID-19 test ahead of return to training and before the league season start.
The clubs will also be required to conduct regular tests before each match day. For each round of PCR tests, a club would have to part with around P28,000 for 35 members of the match day staff. The PCR test cost is around P800 per an individual.
Speaking to Mmegi Sport, Security Systems’ public relations officer, Zolani Kraai said the club’s executive committee will meet in the next week as they await official confirmation from the Botswana Football Association (BFA).
“We are awaiting official confirmation of return of football from Botswana Football Association as we are affiliates as well as the guidelines from BFL (Botswana Football League).
The EXCOM (executive committee) is yet to meet to determine the anticipated impact of the return to play costs,” he said. Meanwhile, Jwaneng Galaxy’s spokesperson, Tankiso Morake also said the club cannot be drawn into the discussion yet.
However, Gaborone United (GU) investor, Nicholas Zakhem said his club has long anticipated that the return to play will come at a high cost and GU is ready to dig deeper into their pockets.
He also said at the moment the club cannot estimate the costs and hopes that the BFA will meet the clubs half way to ensure a smooth return to play. “Almost every organization and individuals have been financially affected by the COVID-19 epidemic. GU is no different. However, we have to dig deep into our pockets
We have had the same experience between October 2020 and January 2021 as we returned to training but unfortunately we couldn’t commence playing. Our players and technical staff were very understanding and accommodative. So everyone sacrificed and we stayed a solid unit.”
“It is hard to quantify the cost at this moment in time. We trust that BFA will extend a helping hand to clubs to overcome this setback.
Everything we have done so far was borne by clubs although we get a bit of financial assistance from the ministry of sports in the form of allowance for three months, add to that FIFA relief fund through BFA.
As for now and moving forward (but) we don’t have any indication so far that we shall be assisted or not,” Zakhem said. Orapa United who are one of the clubs that tasted competitive football during 15-month hiatus said the club is waiting to learn from the BFA on what help will be extended to them.
“You will remember that we had some activity last year following the lockdown when preparing for CAF. It is tough for us to speculate on costs, as these developments are still fresh. We will need to get to the drawing board and plan taking into consideration the circumstances.
We are yet to be guided by the relevant authorities with regards the costs for COVID-19 tests,” United’s public relations officer, Amelton Gaefhele said. The COVID-19 related costs will add more to the local clubs’ financial woes.
Clubs were already struggling to pay players and coaches’ monthly salaries. Of the 16 Premiership clubs, only seven in the 2019/2020 football season were able to regularly pay their staff.