The covid-19 pandemic has worsened the hardships of many BTC Premier League players especially those who are plying their trade for teams which have always been struggling financially.
It turns out that during this pandemic its only a few of financially capable clubs which are coping with the situation and are able to look after their players and most importantly pay them their full monthly salaries. Teams such as BDF XI, Police XI, Gaborone United (GU) and Jwaneng Galaxy among a few continue to pay their players full salaries without any challenge . A week into May this publication has however learnt that most of other clubs have failed to pay players their April salaries. Teams like Township Rollers FC are still negotiating with their resisting players to at least pay them only half of their April salaries.
Other teams which have also committed to pay players half salaries are said to be still failing to do so even after they are the ones who have suggested that. Information reaching this publication is that players have also initially made a proposal through the Botswana Union of Footballers (FUB) for them to at least be paid full salaries for the months of March, April and May and will thereafter discuss salary cuts with their teams after May. Even up to now FUB have not yet received any feedback from the affected clubs.
FUB Secretary General Kgosana Masaseng has confirmed all this adding that some of the teams even have outstanding players’ salaries dating back from as far as six months ago. “A number of players are in distress because of the lockdown effects, some do not have food and toiletries while others have not been paid for two, four and six months,” Masaseng told The Patriot Sport.
Masaseng revealed that around seven teams in the premier league are still struggling to keep up with their contractual obligation with their players. The teams reportedly includes, Gilport Lions, Miscellaneous, Tafic, Extension Gunners, Molepolole City Stars, Notwane and Mahalapye Railways. “Most of the teams have not been paying their players consistently and the situation has become even more worse during the on-going pandemic,” he indicated.
The problem is reported to have affected both local and foreign players. This past week there was however a call out to urgently assist some foreign players who were reportedly in a desperate situation. The players were reportedly starving without food with their landlords on the other hand also threatening them with evictions for defaulting rental fees. FUB had to intervene pleading for assistance and some good Samaritans answered to their call.
One of the incidents includes that of Extension Gunners player, Nassir Mbabali who last year had a fallout with his employer. The Ugandan International was on the 30th of April evicted from his house after the team failed to pay his rent. The club’s Chairperson is said to have however later on the same day came to his rescue and offered the distressed player accommodation. A good Samaritan, Oarabile Nchi Modise later also through FUB donated food hampers to the player.
Masaseng notes that as a result of this ongoing challenges they have since embarked on an initiative to go around the country pleading with people to assist the local players however they can. According to him, the idea is already bearing fruits. “ We have started with greater Gaborone and we have someone who is saying will assist us in Mahalapye, another one in Serowe, we are still talking to people in Fancistown to see who can assist us there. Also in Lobatse discussions are ongoing to see how some interventions can be put up,” he indicated.
Meanwhile Masaseng says FUB continues to consistently engage in talks with the Botswana Football Association (BFA) calling for them to assist struggling clubs. The FUB Secretary General stressed that looking at the current situation the financial intervention is needed as early as possible. As BFA has recently received US$500 000 (P5 million) operational fund from Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) the expectation is that the association will soon extend a helping hand to struggling local clubs especially with regards to players’ outstanding salaries.