The long-anticipated deal between Newcastle Football Club and the Botswana government has been put on ice due to financial constraints, with the Premier League side expecting P150 million per season.
Minister of Youth, Gender, Sport and Culture, Tumiso Rakgare said Newcastle was offering the front space on their jersey. Other benefits included Botswana being displayed on perimeter boards during all Newcastle home matches, Botswana branded on the team's training kit, and interviews for pre-and post-matches with the coach wearing Botswana colours.
Addressing the press in Gaborone today, Rakgare said Newcastle wanted P150 million, which the government could not afford.
“We tried to look for the money and we were unsuccessful. We are not dropping the idea but we will continue to negotiate with Newcastle. They were even offering that former players could come here to do training camps. We are going to try again next season,” he said.
He added such partnerships are working well for Rwanda with Arsenal and Zanzibar with Southampton. Rakgare said people do not know Botswana and it is important to make it a point that the country is marketed. Rakgare said the idea was meant to benefit Botswana tourism.
“The partnership was meant to expose our tourism. When the number of tourists increases in our country, as sport we will benefit. We will always traverse the world to look for investors,” he said.
Rakgare said at first they negotiated with Chelsea but the deal fell through because of the money the club quoted.
He said together with Minister of Trade Mmusi Kgafela, they engaged the owners of Newcastle and they also gave an offer. He said upon return from Newcastle, they discussed the matter with the ministries of Finance and Tourism.
“The benefits are huge. When we were there, we spoke to them about the possibility of establishing a High-Performance Centre in Botswana and a state-of-the-art football academy. They said that is possible. Personally, I feel what they were asking for is not a lot. The challenge is that our financial year has already started,” he said.