Bemobile prize money expected today but many clubs continue to struggle
As mega rich footballers prepare to represent their countries in the FIFA World Cup in a few weeks time, many Premier League players in Botswana are fighting to put food on their tables.
Three weeks after the end of the season cash strapped clubs are still struggling to pay their players and settle outstanding debts as they await prize and TV rights money.
The good news is that this Friday beMobile is likely to pay teams’ prize money after a delay caused by ‘technical hitches.’ But on the downside additional money that is supposed to come from TV rights has apparently been swallowed by Premier League debts.
Hardest hit seem to be clubs from the north who have found it hard to make ends meet due to a lack of lucrative sponsorship.
With the cost of running a Premier League club at around P1 million a season, it is difficult for teams like Ecco City Greens, Miscellaneous and Tafic to keep players and pay bills.
With Friday’s cash injection there will be some relief, and the additional P60 000 from BTV for television rights due for March and April would have helped even more. But BPL CEO Bennett Mamelodi was quoted as saying they have agreed in a meeting with club chairmen that TV money will be used to pay referees.
Botswana Television is said to have paid rights money last week of P960 000.
Tafic’s disastrous season has ended not only in relegation, but also with the dilemma of which players will be retained for the next campaign because the club does not have money to negotiate contracts.
Although procedures are at an advanced stage to register a new company to take over the affairs of the club, and with potential investors showing an interest in supporting the venture, there is some light at the end of the tunnel.
But at present the league is on a break at least until August and players are stranded without money to go on holiday and remain uncertain over their future. Much of the P120 000 expected as their share of the Bemobile payment will be swallowed up in existing debts and rentals revealed a financial advisor to the club.
Speaking to Voice Sport this week Ecco Public Relations Officer Dickson Ditsheko said their players have not been paid for two months. He said they had promised them their salaries would be the first priority as soon as money comes. The club are currently relying on selling merchandise and they use the money to take care of players’ accommodations expenses and other basic needs.
But amongst other debts Ecco owes their transport provider Zenene Sinombe a sum of P21 700 and the matter is in the hands of a lawyer.
“It is a burning issue. Our future is far from being clear and we are facing lawsuits for failing to pay debts, which are an additional cost. Players will end up running out of patience. They were invited to our AGM recently so that we could share our challenges with them, but inevitably we will lose some players,” said Ditsheko.
Relegated Miscellaneous Public Relations Officer Musa Morapedi also spoke of the club’s financial challenges.
Referring to the BTV money he pointed out that 5% was deducted from their gate takings in each game so they had thought the money was used to pay referees. He said the money they got from their last home game against Rollers was all given to players.
“We are used to the issue of struggling to pay players because we do not have a home ground and we run the club from our pockets.”
He however revealed that negotiations with BMC to buy their Premier League status, since the club are set to merge with Gunners, are at an advanced stage.
We are hopeful that next season we will be back in the Premier league. We will raise some money to add onto the prize money so that we can buy BMC’s status,” said Morapedi.
When pressed for a comment on the BTV cash issue, Mamelodi said the matter of money was discussed and resolved. He added that this was not the time for team officials to discredit the premier league, and warned that it may jeopardize their chances of getting sponsors.
“All the rumours and petty issues make us look like we are disorderly. Who will want to be associated with us? Teams should not be surprised to find us without a sponsor next season if they air these matters in the media. They should know the right channels to discuss their grievances,” he said.