Panic sets in over Baboneng deal

BFA and Baboneng sealing the mutli million pula deal PIC: PRESS PHOTO
BFA and Baboneng sealing the mutli million pula deal PIC: PRESS PHOTO

In an environment where sport sponsorships are hard to come by, local football continues to attract mouthwatering deals that end going up in smoke.

The latest in a string of disappointments appears to be the television broadcasting deal sealed last year between Botswana Football Association (BFA) and Baboneng Film Production.  In July 2018, BFA and Baboneng signed a five-year deal for the live broadcast of the Debswana First Division League games to the tune of a staggering P9 million.

The historic partnership was to commence at the start of this season, and for the first time, the first division games were going to be beamed live on our television screens. 

Baboneng productions that partnered with Maru TV station to broadcast the games, had also promised to televise 90 games of the elite league games.

Baboneng has been given the TV and radio rights, print media and internet rights and the branding of playing venues during the games.

To football fans and pundits alike the deal was too good to be true bearing in mind the second-tier league itself, has over the years failed to attract massive sponsorship with, Debswana coming to the rescue on numerous occasions. The clubs had also failed to attract deals with many struggling to pay salaries.

The broadcasting deal was meant to cushion the second-tier teams against the ever-increasing costs of surviving a whole football season through P50,000 grants.

Baboneng came on board with a reputable track record having done work with government on the production of Lefatsheletlotlo (which is on Btv) Ngwao Boswa (Btv 2015) A Lorato Ke Lone Le drama (Mzanzi Magic and Btv) programmes among others. However, just six months later, the worst of the scenario has happened as Baboneng Film Production has managed to broadcast only two games both coming from the First Division North league.

The company has failed to show their presence in the playing field in terms of branding as the leagues’ content continues to be invisible on the internet.  The teams are also yet to receive the P50,000 grant.

While the BFA and Baboneng remain optimistic on the deal, memories of past failed deals have come flooding. In 2008, as the Mascom Wireless deal came to an end, unknown Monomotapa African Broadcasting Corporation (MABC) came to the rescue and offered to splash out $9.5m (P64.8m) to finance the league for three years.

The Zimbabwean broadcaster beat the Mascom deal, which was then P4.5m over the same period. This was supposed to be the biggest deal in local football but just a few days later, all the excitement came crumbling. MABC failed to pay the amount as it turned out no contract had been signed.

In another case, when the then BMC FC was in the form of their lives, in came New Era College directors, the Ghodratti family, with a proposal to take over the club.

After months of uncertainty coupled with board squabbles that involved the club’s former management the deal went up in smoke.

In 2014, came self-acclaimed businessman, Mpho Gift Mogapi who took over as Notwane owner, promising the Toronto family, ‘heaven on earth’.

Mogapi even had the audacity to sign two of South African stars, Benedict Vilakazi and Manqoba Ngwenya. However, Mogapi did not fulfill his promises and left the side in no man’s land as they relegated to the First Division for the first time.

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