The circus is back in Gaborone

The circus is back in town. It is not the Boswell Wilkes Circus. We are talking about the football circus. This time, we are not witnessing ingeniously funny dancing moves between a nine-year-old-girl and a mammoth elephant.

The Mascom Premier League circus has created a state of shock and numbness as we wonder where we are headed to. And the script makes for some compelling read. Township Rollers would exit the stage with nothing to show from their own circus involving Bernard Semakwezi; the sacking of coach Madinda Ndlovu and lately donning Orange branded shirts.

Enter Notwane -
alias Toronto!
While the Premier League Committee is adamant Toronto has not played by the book in registering Thebeetsile 'Mkhari' Raditsebe, the team has boldly, if not arrogantly - told the authorities to go swim in the next river.
That is why they fielded Mkhari in last Saturday's 4-1 routing of Nico United in Selebi-Phikwe though they have lost five points from the use of the same player. Based on the same logic, we can safely conclude, and that is provided Nico has followed procedure to file a protest, that three more points will be taken away from Notwane and handed to the struggling Selebi-Phikwe outfit. Losing eight or more points for Toronto if they continue playing Mkhari would be catastrophic.
Somebody should fathom reasons why Toronto are steadfastly proclaiming their innocence when custodians of the rules have told them off? Even more than the Semakwezi issue, scores of teams will be anxious to establish what Notwane have up their sleeves that inform their position. And this is precisely because clubs have had the same rule thrown at them and barred from using players registered outside the registration window period.
When Rollers sought the services of Boitumelo Mafoko from TASC last season - although his move was sanctioned by the Player Status Committee - it did not however mean that the Blues could have the player registered to play in the league. Rollers got his book and when they went to the Botswana Football Federation (BFA), they were told off. They returned from Lekidi House with tails neatly tucked between their legs!!
When Gabane Santos 'snatched' Talinda Nyathi in the 2004-2005 season from Notwane, the move stalled because his book came a few hours after the deadline. The PLC was poised to pounce on Santos who used Nyathi in their game against BMC in Lobatse but were thwarted when the Gabane side lost. Nyathi went back to Notwane in a dubious loan deal. Dubious because the PLC and the BFA never recognised the loan!
Mochudi Centre Chiefs paid for the up-keep of Gobonyeone 'Shoes' Selefa at the beginning of the season when his intended move was blocked by a livid Notwane. With the deadline hour approaching, and realising they could not have the player, Magosi took the interest of the player to heart and allowed him to continue with Notwane.
Well, Notwane reckons these clubs have been fools better placed for slots in a circus show! Apparently, there is a technicality that Toronto reckons will provide an escape route for them and spice up the circus show.
It relates to a letter written by the Player Status Committee giving Notwane permission to have Mkhari following a dispute with Rollers. Legal minds would however be required to determine the implications of this letter- whether it meant the player could be eligible to play or not. Notwane are also likely to argue that denying Mkhari the right to play is tantamount to depriving him the right to trade or something to that effect. Now refer to the Semakwezi debacle - in the absence of contracts common in a professional set-up - the PLC's position is that amateurs cannot be said to have been denied the right to trade.
If the matter goes to the National Appeals Board, as we anticipate, several dynamics will come into play. There is Mothusi Lekalake - the Notwane vice-chairman and think-tank. He is one of the few intellectuals in our football with a mind of his own. He is capable of something, if you know what I mean. Interestingly, Lekalake sits in the National Appeals Board. The board makes final rulings in sports disputes. But, expect the PLC to question the integrity of the board (they are still reeling from the shock decision made by the board in the matter involving Rollers and BDF). Many would think Lekalake could lobby colleagues to decide cases in favour of Notwane. Our minds run wild in football.
The PLC will want Lekalake to recuse himself from the board hearing the appeal. Notwane would tell the board they played Mkhari subsequent to the Disciplinary Committee's (DC) ruling as they believe they are not guilty and omitting the player from the line-up would have been self-incriminating.
They would argue that the Player Status Committee okayed Raditsebe's move allowing him to be registered to play even if the window period had elapsed. Notwane will go all out to fight for their survival and show cause why the DC's ruling is flawed.
Notwane are connected. They can always get the information they want and get the right facts to prepare their case. If Notwane find a lacuna in the rules and are vindicated, the circus will get even more intriguing because, as earlier submitted, implications are huge and it could set a precedent. In the mean time, watch the show as it unfolds.

Editor's Comment
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