New Botswana Premier League (BPL) board chairperson, Seiphetlho Sefhako has said fans are equally to blame for the failure to attract significant sponsorship deals for the league.
Sefhako said private companies want to see numbers before they could invest in the league.
“We need fans to register with their respective teams as members. We need them in our database. These are the numbers that we present to our potential sponsors,” he said.
“They aid us in getting better deals for our football. Currently, a lot our fans are not full members of the clubs, our teams do not have a sufficient number of members and this affects the sponsorship negotiations a lot.”
Sefhako’s remarks come at a time when there is speculation that the game might lose its biggest sponsor, the Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC), which bankrolls the Premier League. BTC feels there is no value from the partnership and proposed to re-evaluate the terms of the P39 million sponsorship deal.
Commercial bank, Barclays Bank of Botswana has reportedly shown interest, but is still skeptical about the commercial value of investing in the league. As talks drag, Sefhako said preparations for the new season have been affected.
“Naturally, the league is played when we have a sponsor, but it does not mean we cannot play the league without a sponsor. It is worrisome that we are yet to secure a deal. This affects our preparations as clubs for the new season. But we need to find a common ground with all the stakeholders before anything can be concluded.”“Our target date remains August 17. The fixtures are done and we wait on the management committee to release them. It could be this Friday (today); they just need to be crosschecked then released to the public,” he said.
Sefhako said his committee will meet with the club licencing regulators, the First Instance Body (FIB) and admitted that non-compliant clubs could face the chop.
“There are always procedures in everything. We are yet to meet with FIB, we will first look at the level the clubs have complied. It will be a very delicate process.”
Only four clubs were said to have fully complied with the FIB. Sefhako, in his first month in office, has come face-to-face with the recurring challenge of match officials’ allowance arrears.
“I can’t confirm the amount and the exact period, but there are arrears from last season. We are yet to pay our referees but we, with the mother body, are working around the clock to pay the referees before the league starts,” he said. “They are an integral part of the league and we cannot play without them.”