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Crying out for COVID Relief

Crying out for COVID Relief
STANDSTILL: League action remains postponed


“There are lots of issues to look at. It is not only players’ salaries but also expiring contracts, transfer window among other things.” – BFA President, Maclean Letshwiti

Cash-strapped Botswana Football Association (BFA) has submitted a desperate P2, 234, 136 SOS to Government to cover the April wage budget for Premier League players.

With all football activities in the country grinding to a halt over a month ago, teams across the land are faced with a daunting financial hole they are struggling to fill.

As most local clubs rely on gate takings and merchandise sales to survive, the inactivity could prove terminal to some.

Although the BFA have already sent a much larger budget to the sport’s global governing body, FIFA, the request is expected to take a while to process.

Thus, in their hour of need, the association have turned to home for more immediate help as they seek to benefit from government’s Covid-19 Relief Fund.

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In total there are 480 registered Premier League players, with all 16 sides boasting 30 footballers each. The ‘P2 million plus’ budget would cover their salaries for the month.

Speaking to Voice Sport this week, BFA President, Maclean Letshwiti admitted the majority of teams were already struggling economically before the enforced break.

Crying out for COVID Relief

He noted some failed to comply with club licencing requirements and were finding it increasingly difficult to pay players.

“This is an emergency. We have to do a lot of clubs’ financial impact data analysis and time is not on our side. It is month end and players have to pay their rentals and other expenses. It is a process. We do not know when FIFA will assist because assessments differ per association member. We also have staff to pay and we make money when there is action.”

Sounding stressed, Letshwiti said the current situation was giving the BFA ‘sleepless nights’ but maintained his association were doing all they can to assist their affiliates during the lockdown.

“These are tough times that need everyone’s input. Our teams are not commercialised. If they were all registered as companies they could be benefiting from the BURS Relief Fund, which would cover players’ wages,” the President pointed out.

Highlighting the BFA’s present predicament, Letshwiti explained there were other, more complex concerns to consider on top of how to pay the players.

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“There are lots of issues to look at. It is not only players’ salaries but also expiring contracts, transfer window among other things. The obligations placed on the parties will potentially be made impossible.”

Letshwiti further warned there was no guarantee the league – two-thirds complete with ten rounds of fixtures remaining – would resume.

“We are not even sure if this season will be finished. We might find ourselves starting afresh next season. We are dealing with something unprecedented and do not know when a cure will be found and our lives get back to normal.”

With the season set for a thrilling climax – separated by just five points, all of Jwaneng Galaxy, Township Rollers, Orapa United, Security Systems and Gaborone United are realistic title contenders – cancelling the league would be the latest body blow to the country’s long-suffering football fans.

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