FRESH off the back a nightmarish Cosafa Cup outing, Namibian football has cut an increasingly worn and fraught silhouette -bogged by a sponsorship ultimatum- that has left the Namibia Premier League (NPL) crying out for a new lease of life.
The country’s flagship league could have been merely broke a few months ago when it failed to host the annual premier league awards but this time they find themselves in dire straits with the consequences wide and far reaching.
The ship is sinking; the industry is in a crisis and could fall off the cliff with over 450 youths!
Indeed, after months of uncertainty over the status quo of the Namibian football its became quite clear this week that the country’s football is in shambles and something drastic has to be done to rescue one of the nation’s biggest industries and employers.
With a sucker punch, Mobile Telecommunications Limited (MTC) has given the Namibia Premier League (NPL) until July 31 2016 to look for an additional sponsor, or risk losing N$15 million earmarked by MTC for the 2016/2017 season.
The conditions MTC gave to the NPL when sourcing another sponsor are that this other sponsor should not be in direct competition with MTC; that MTC should retain the naming rights of the league; and in case the NPL fails to get a sponsor by July31, MTC will automatically withdraw their offer.
Another clause is that the NPL must prove to MTC that such a sponsor has been secured. MTC will not entertain any proposal by the league to commence the season without securing the sponsor.
With very little doubt this remains an uphill task if not close to impossible. NPL chairman Johnny Doeseb has reiterated that teams are already busy engaging various stakeholders with regards to the N$9 million per season sponsorship targeting the Government and corporate companies to come on board but he has also essentially admitted that the governing body fell victim to complacency that MTC will always be there and that the outcome of this ultimatum can be catastrophic.
Surely, what will make this task more difficult are documented instances of clubs struggling to fill their match day stadiums which radically stimulates the notion that despite the prevailed infrastructure deficit in local football, there can be assurances that attendances at games will not improve and will continue decline.
Withstanding the fact that gate fees are the highest component of global sports revenue and particularly within the context of Namibia where the other components- media rights, merchandising and sponsorship- are not as optimised as can be, the fans will remain the lifeblood to finding an external sponsor and that within a month.
If this happens, those looking to improve the NPL may well strive to borrow a few leaves from the South African PSL’s playbook but for now we have to acknowledge that the prospects that there simply will be no football come August 8 are one possibility that can never be taken for granted.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015