Following a broken down relationship between Botswana Premier League (BPL) and Botswana Telecommunications Corporation(BTC) towards the end of last season, the two parties have mutually agreed on P5 million sponsorship deal for the 2019/2020 season .In the initial contract which was penned in 2017 BTCL did commit an amount of P13 million per season but following breach of contract by the BPL the two parties settled for a reduced amount just for BTC to finish up their contract which ends this season. The new amount marks a reduction in the sponsorship by 62% which is equivalent to the P8 million which has been scrapped off.
Key amongst the issues which led to BTC opting for low figures is the failure to meet the agreed number of games to be broadcast live on television. As part of the 2017 deal 60 games were to be beamed live but only achieved 42 by the time the league concluded last season. Therefore this was a financial lose to BTC due to lose of mileage. However despite the reduced sponsorship BTCL still remains as the title sponsor of the premier league. Speaking at the launch of the sponsorship BTCL Chief Operations Officer Edward Wicks said,
“Our commitment to local football has been for over a decade now and we have come together with a new deal so it’s our mandate to put value for this sponsorship and attract people to football in Botswana. A lot has been going around in terms of trying to professionalize the clubs as well as commercializing the game. We need to find ways of getting fans to the grounds to support the game and teams such that we develop an exciting and relevant product which will add value to all the stakeholders. So we hope by the end of the season the partnership will be fruitful and we will all be happy and so hopefully we will extend the sponsorship for the upcoming years,” he said.
Since the league has already kick started and going into the second week there has been some massive changes in how things are done. Some of the initiatives such as tickets sales and payments of stadia which were introduced during the leadership of Jagdish Shah as the BPL chairperson has been reversed. In an interview with this publication, Botswana Football Association (BFA) Chief Executive Officer Mfolo Mfolo said they got rid of the initiatives because they were not bearing fruits.
“Tickets are now back at the BPL office, they are centralized there because back then the board took a decision to give teams the powers to sell tickets such that they are able to generate some funds for themselves. Fair and fine that’s what they believed could work for them but the review is the arrangement was going to give us problems as time went on because I remember there was a time when a certain team just used exercise books to make tickets .And that in terms of the image of the product and sponsor it was not putting us in a good way because tickets have to be branded with the colors of the sponsor. So by going to this old model of BPL being in charge of tickets we are closing those gaps,” said Mfolo.
He further said they are starting the league on a clean slate except for payments for stadia where they still owe Botswana National Sports Commission. During the offseason news were rife that the premier league did owe referees some back pays since the BPL was in great debts. “Our referees are paid too and we have agreed that this season we will pay them on quarterly basis. In terms of stadia there was an agreement of once off payment and that didn’t work too so we should just accept that the easier way is to pay 25% so this is the model now. We have agreed on a payment plan with them such that we clear the debt that’s why we are using the stadia,” he said.