The troubled Gilport Lions’ face possible suspension from the BTCL premiership. The team, according to sources, might face an 18 months suspension after failing to honour two of its league fixtures this season.
The embattled Gilport Lions last weekend failed to honour a scheduled league game against Sankoyo Bush Bucks. This was the second match the team did not honour as they also did not play their game against Mochudi Centre Chiefs in November.
Gilport Lions appeared before the Botswana Premier League Disciplinary committee on Thursday to answer for the matter. The case was, however, postponed to Monday. BPL acting Chief Executive Officer Thabo Ntshinogang confirmed that his office is probing the matter. Ntshinogang said an appropriate action will be taken against the team following the outcome of the hearing. “If they are found guilty fines will be handed down to them according to the BFA Play Rule and regulations and the constitution,” said Ntshinogang.
Since the BMC society initiated a take-over of Gilport Lions, it has been reported that the club is finding it tough as it lost sponsors when Kelesitse Gilika and company pulled out. The society had requested that the status of the club be transferred to that of BMC Social Welfare Club which the Botswana Football Association (BFA) had given thumbs up to. “Resources are scarce and the going is tough at the club; the players are not even paid,” said a source.
In light of this, some people even say the situation is too extreme that the team might as well face expulsion as it might not be able to honour more of the up-coming games if the situation does not improve. This week the current management led by Sonny Phiri is said to have written to BFA requesting that their games be postponed to allow them time to sort out their issues. Ntshinogang, however, said they have fixtured the team to play until they could hear from the superiors from BFA. “The letter was not written to us but to BFA. We were just copied in the letter, so we will fixture them to play until we could hear otherwise from BFA,” he said. Contacted for comment BFA spokesperson Tumo Mpatane referred this publication to BPL CEO.
It looks like the Gilport Lions take over by the BMC Social Club was something that was not properly planned for. Phiri was quoted in the media this week saying their intention was to take the team when they were ready to meet all the expenses and were targeting January 2017. “By the time we met Gilika he told us he will give us the team right away, but we wanted to take the team after restoration of the name BMC Social Club so that we could start our own re-branding and marketing. This is why we even asked BFA to postpone some of our games until maybe the window period so we can prepare ourselves accordingly,” Phiri was quoted.
News coming from the Gilport camp is that with players having not been paid their salaries, some have decided to boycott the games. According to the BFA Play Rules and Regulations 14.14, any team that fails to honour more than two games might be expelled from BFA membership.