BFA to the rescue

Portia Mlilo
PREMIER LEAGUE ACTION: Township Rollers and Gilbert Lions during a previous fixture

Association bails out 8 BPL teams

The Botswana Football Association (BFA) has thrown eight Premier League teams a lifeline in the form of P40, 000 loans.

The bailouts, dispatched earlier this week, are to help the financially struggling sides cover outstanding payments for their players’ April salaries.

The beneficiaries include: Extension Gunners, TAFIC, Miscellaneous, Prisons XI, Mahalapye Railways, Notwane, Gilport Lions and Molepolole City Stars.

Before the BFA stepped in, their had been rising panic amongst the teams after some of their players were reportedly threatened with eviction over unpaid rentals.

The normally cash-strapped association were in a position to help after receiving a US$500, 000 (P5 million) Operational Fund from FIFA.

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It proved to be a timely intervention.

Speaking to Voice Sport on Thursday, BFA Vice President, Marshlow Motlogelwa explained FIFA – the sport’s global governing body – had released the operational funding due to member associations for the years 2019/2020.

BFA to the rescue
HELPING HAND: Motlogelwa

It is the first step of FIFA’s Relief Plan to assist the football community impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Motlogelwa further explained that under normal circumstances they would only have received the full donation upon fulfillment of specific criteria.

However, because of the disruption caused by Covid-19, all 211 FIFA affiliated associations received the entire amount.

“The money will be used to mitigate the financial impact of Covid-19 on the associations to meet financial or operational obligations that we have. The association also has employees that need to be paid their salaries and take care of other bills,” declared the BFA’s second in command.

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“We decided to take part of the money to assist some clubs through BPL. We understand that most of our teams do not have sponsors and they rely on selling merchandise and gate takings. Now that football activities have been suspended for over a month, they are struggling financially,” continued Motlogelwa, adding in total the bFA gad sent the Premier League P320, 000 to cover the eight teams.

He revealed they are still waiting for the Relief Fund from FIFA to help clubs directly, adding they expect to receive the monies – although he did not disclose how much – by the end of the week.

Additionally, the VP said they have also submitted their budget for the Government Relief Fund but are yet to hear back from the Minister of Sports.

On the issue of Covid-19 subsidies, Motlogelwa said BFA submitted clubs’ payroll but it was disappointing that most of the teams did not comply.

“Players do not pay as they earn because teams are failing to pay their full monthly salaries and some have arrears which makes it difficult to pay tax. Some teams did not even pay their annual subscriptions to Registrar of Society and can be de-registered at any time and thus would automatically lose their BFA affiliation!” warned Motlogelwa, adding this could potentially return to haunt the offending clubs once Coronavirus is finally banished.

‘This is likely to backfire because Botswana Unified Revenue Services now have teams’ database and they will make follow-ups after Covid. Some of our teams do not comply which will end up affecting players and we have always warned them. This pandemic will expose them,’ he predicted darkly.

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As for a possible return to league action, Motlogelwa admitted the unpredictable and unprecedented nature of the pandemic has made it difficult to plan for such.

However, if things go well, he revealed they are considering letting teams resume training for the first three weeks of June with fixtures commencing in the fourth week.

He added it would mean next season starting in January and ending in December.

For the country’s football starved fans, following the famine of April, a feast could be on the horizon!

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