Cost cutting at parastatal threatens the survival of northern club
Speculation that the Botswana Meat Commission are about to cut their financial support of Ecco City FC have been strongly rumoured in football circles this week. Botswana Meat Commission’s recent poor returns have not only harmed the country’s purse but threaten to have devastating consequences for the sports codes they help finance. The parastatal is currently contemplating drastically cutting or withdrawing sponsorship of some of the sports clubs they have traditionally supported.
BMC FC who finished second in the league this season are thought to be the only exception to the cost cutting exercise that could leave Ecco, the BMC brand famous for it’s dog food product, without a sponsor. Responding to the suggestion BMC Public Relations and Corporate Communications Manager Tiro Kganela confirmed that they want to cut costs under social corporate investments.
“It is not like BMC is withdrawing from sponsoring teams, but we have asked them not to be entirely dependent on us since this is risky. Should we face serious financial problems then they will also be doomed. We spend millions annually on our different sports codes,” Kganela said.
He added: “The management held a meeting with clubs and suggested that they should bring other partners on board to help them survive. All we want is for them to meet us half way. It is not true that we want to dump them since these teams help us to push our brand both in services and products.”
The bulk of the cash on offer is currently spent on Premier League sides Ecco City Greens and BMC Football Club, both of whom have had a financially rewarding season from success in both the league and cup. Figures quoted suggested that between them they receive around P5 million annually from the Commission.
Ecco City Greens Secretary Moses Jackson said the issue is still being discussed and they are awaiting the final decision, after which they will map a way forward. He said every season they submit their budget to BMC and get financial support.
“We do not have a problem whatever the outcome because we have always had means of generating income for survival. We do not totally depend on the company, and are prepared to meet them half way. The team makes money from selling merchandise, gate takings and also striving to finish in the top 8 every season for better prize money,” said Jackson. Ecco have also reached the final of the lucrative Mascom Top 8 competition, which has a P1million up for grabs for the winners and P400 000 to the runners-up.
While Jackson seemed confident that there would be life without sponsorship from their mother company, his counterpart from Lobatse Sonny Phiri spelt doom for the beef sponsored teams should the parastatal decide to reduce their sponsorship. Phiri who is the club’s Chairman told Voice Sport the news came to them as a total shock looking at the fact that the football clubs are doing very well.
“It must be demoralizing for players to hear this, especially after they fought so hard to be in the position they are currently occupying,” he said. Phiri said all sports codes except for Ecco are registered under one certificate which basically means they belong to the company. He said unlike other teams their situation is unique when it comes to luring possible sponsors since they already trade under a well-known company name.
“How do we take BMC forward after this? This might mean we might even have to look beyond the border for sponsorship and it might require us to even change the name of the club as there are not many sponsors who will support a team trading under a company name. We have tried it before, I know,” he said Phiri however said the development could be good news to other companies who have ambitions to invest in sports.
“There might be other companies who will be more than willing to take over BMC FC,” he said. Former BMC player Bobo Motlhalane told Voice Sport that he fears a drastic reduction in funding would result in one team collapsing, “especially Ecco as they are still establishing themselves,” he said.