•Have not been paid since February
Just when the dust is about to settle at the troubled Lekidi, another dark cloud appears to be hanging over the football centre as disgruntled referees threaten to down tools ahead of the new season.
With the new season scheduled to start next week, match officials who are still owed money from last season’s games have blown the whistle on Botswana Premier League for failing to address their payment concerns.
So serious is the matter that the start of the football season hangs in the balance, as referees and assessors threaten not to officiate until they are paid in full.
According to sources, wars between the Botswana Football Association (BFA) and Botswana Premier League (BPL) are fueling the standoff.
“The bottom line is referees have not been paid yet fixtures have already been released, and league the is expected to start on the 7th of October. The problem is that the BFA NEC and BPL are busy blaming each other. Even worse, some within those factions are the ones encouraging the match officials to boycott the games until they are paid,” revealed a source.
When contacted for a comment, one of the referees who spoke on condition of anonymity expressed his frustration at the way things have turned out.
He said no one bothers to update them on any progress regarding their payments unless they inquire.
“We hear that the league is starting next week and the BFA NEC is said to be handling our outstanding payments but nothing has materialized so far. We currently do not know when we will be paid but we are not intending to start the league when we have pending payments. If they cannot pay us now, how will they pay later when the debt has accumulated? They should just pay us for our services and stop making us part of their fights, so that football can continue in the end,” he said.
When reached for comment the Acting BPL CEO, Thabo Ntshinogang, confirmed that they are yet to pay the referees.
He said there was no way they could start the league without addressing all important stake holders, including the match officials.
“Rest assured that nothing will stop the league from commencing. As we speak we are addressing issues of referees’ payments. I don’t know what could have delayed their payments as I have only been here for two months. I don’t want to say that we will pay all the outstanding balance, but what I can assure you is that before the league begins we would have reached a satisfactory agreement for everyone,” promised Ntshinogang.
The acting CEO further said they have been updating the referees through their leadership, with the hope that the leadership would constantly update the concerned referees.