CEO under pressure, teams threaten exit
Board decry lack of transparency, suspect foul play
“Players losing out on jobs due to matters taking too long to resolve”- FUB
Six premier league clubs have threatened exit following concerns over certain discrepancies within the Botswana Football League (BFL) leadership. The clubs, who are shareholders in the BFL – a registered company since June 2020, among them Notwane FC, Gaborone United FC, Mogoditshane United FC, Gilport Lions FC, Extension Gunners FC and Township Rollers FC represent the unhappy section of the league.
The unhappy section of the BFL is cognisant of the fact that even as shareholders, a board was elected; however, that electing a board does not make members any more powerful than the rest of the shareholders. Presenting some of the issues on the table, Notwane Fc’s Mothusi Lekalake made it crystal clear that the BFL is autonomous in terms of the BFA General Assembly and must therefore conduct its affairs independently. According to Lekalake a meeting was called by BFL chairman on 22 September which did not comply with the constitution and shareholders raised this as a defect; to which the chairman accepted was defective and aborted the proposed meeting. “There are issues that remain unresolved which form part of the properly constituted meeting which include matters affecting management of the company and a consideration of an unauthorized transaction,” he said.
Lekalake explained that there are governance issues such as the absence of 4 out of 16 teams namely Orapa United FC, Security Systems FC, Extension Gunners FC and Mogoditshane Fighters FC, in the company documentation which has not been resolved over a year later since BFL registered with CIPA. “The intention is to ensure the directorship and constitution are aligned. This might entail chopping and changing directorship as shareholders may decide,” he said. Moving forward, it will be further important for shareholders to review and adopt the play rules and regulations governing the league; a constitutional item that has a bearing on a number of issues affecting clubs such as the number of foreign players allowed. Needless to say, the BFL has failed to present any tangible sponsors for the league despite approaching some of their previous sponsors including ABSA and Mascom whose contracts had expired. The unhappy section of the BFL explained that they had reached a 5-year agreement with Botswana Television (BTV) during the days of the interim committee but were surprised to hear that BTV was now only willing to jump on board for one year only post discussions with the new committee.
Regarding unauthorized transactions, it has come to the attention of the unhappy section of the BFL that streaming rights for the league were awarded to Kitso Media, a company they are neither aware of nor familiar with any of their previous work. Further discussions revealed that the appointment of Kitso Media without full consent of members of the BFL is a clear sign of a lack of transparency and there would have been better reception if the BFL had at the very least floated a tender. Lekalake highlighted that raising their issues does not in any way reflect a feud but that they are simply trying to build a lucrative product as the BFL. Describing Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for BFL Solomon Ramochotlhwane as sleeping on the job, Lekalake also emphasized that shareholders club in question together with others have resolved that they will not participate in the league until all pending issues are fully ventilated and resolved.
Downplaying the gravity of conflict within the BFL, Ramochotlhwane defined the situation as internal differences which will ultimately sort itself out. “I am an employee of BFL and we have three structures namely the Shareholders, The Board Elected by Shareholders and the Secretariat supervised by the Directors as per the BFL Constitution and Companies Act. Differences can be resolved through a dialogue like meetings and internal discussions, “he said. Ramochotlhowane was also very dismissive with regards to the accusations that a delay in announcing sponsors was because there aren’t any sponsors on the table at the moment. He was also reluctant to speak on the sketchy appointment of Kitso Media to provide streaming services for the premier league. “The answer is simple; I don’t make decisions at the company. Sponsors will be presented at the right time, “he said.
Footballers Union Botswana (FUB)’s Kgosana Masaseng denied any specific knowledge of the friction at BFL leadership level and said they are yet to be formally briefed about the latest developments at BFL; but have been picking some comments in the public space about discussions at the league. The last time the FUB engaged the league was when they were delivering on the wish list of the players. “Early this month, the BFL CEO addressed the players about their concerns, and we are hopeful that all will be dealt within the reasonable time. We will also await a briefing from the stakeholder about the happenings at the league so that we can only deal with what is official, “he said. Masaseng further mentioned that the uncertainty on the resumption of the league is eating away at the player’s peace of mind. The second one is that the employers must be clear on the way forward in relation to contractual stability. “We are likely to see a number of players losing out on jobs on account of loss of interest or matters taking too long to resolve, “he pointed out. According to Masaseng the players are having mixed feelings given that it has been an on and off type of a relationship.
In addition,the continued absence of the game has affected players mentally, physically, emotionally, and financially; and most of them are in huge debts. “We have proposed to the league and the football association to consider psychosocial sessions for these players before the return of football. We are of the view that it can help put players in a good state of mind before the league gets in full swing and can also hope that this time, the return of sport will last to give our members an opportunity for continuity,” he said. Masaseng mentioned that issues that are pending before both the league and the football association are to do with all the statutes that affect the players. “We are happy to be working on revising the National Dispute Resolution Chamber (NDRC) regulations to ensure that it offers our members justice within the shortest time possible. We are also looking at the BFL constitution, the standard contract, play rules and regulations as well as the regulations on the status and transfer of players,” he added. According to Masaseng once these statutory instruments are dealt with, it can guarantee their members a conducive working environment. Furthermore, the issue on contracts is still pending especially after the nullification of the season and while the association had promised to resolve the matter, nothing solid has taken shape to date. “This issue has been left for the clubs and their interpretation is based on what they prefer, not what is provided for in the regulations, ‘he added.