By John Tuerijama
THE leadership of the Namibia Premier League (NPL) has spent the past couple of months knocking on corporate doors, looking for sponsors that could partner long standing benefactor, MTC. As things turned out, MTC announced this week that due to NPL’s failure to secure the conditional N$9 million, the telecommunications giant has decided to withdraw its offer of N$15 million. Together, the amount would have totalled N$24 million which is the budget that NPL had presented to MTC as a basis for their negotiations.
Prior to this week’s decision, Confidente Sport approached the league’s spokesperson, Cassius Moetie for his views on their financial situation. This is what he had to say:
Confidente: As NPL’s head of marketing and communications, rumours about the financial woes experienced by the NPL are making the rounds. How has the league been affected, financially?
CM: It depends what exactly you mean with the question. However, to answer the question for what it is worth, the Football Sponsorship Contract came to its natural end. Since then fruitful negotiations between the NPL and MTC took place and a subsequent announcement of MTC’s willingness to continue with specific requirement was made which is no secret.
Meanwhile, the NPL office operates as normal. The management committee is working beyond the call of duty to secure the difference required in accordance with the NPL annual budget. Further information in this regard will be announced in due course.
Confidente: Mr. Moetie, is it true that there is a huge possibility of NPL employees not getting their salaries because of serious financial constraints being experienced?
CM: We, in the NPL management committee, are not aware of the serious financial constraints you alluded to in your question; that our staff will not receive their monthly salaries. I put it to you that we, in the NPL, have entered employment contracts with our staff and we will do all we can to honour our contractual obligations as stipulated in this regard.
Confidente: With the MTC contract having come to a logical end how difficult has it been for the NPL to run the day-to-day office administration without the necessary funds?
CM: The NPL is a unique business in the game of football. We are not in the hospitality or wholesale industry where the running cost to sustain such a business is exorbitant. We operate in a unique business of football at the level of a League.
In fact, football clubs probably have bigger administrative and operational budgets than the league and NPL is highly cognisant of cost containment, hence we have declared war on cost to mitigate the window period when renewal of sponsorship contracts are negotiated.
Confidente: Can you confirm or deny that the NPL financial status is in good standing and that the employees will receive their salaries?
CM: I am reluctant to confirm or deny anything on our financial status. The NPL is regulated by a Board of Governors and the management committee [MC] presents regular financial reports at BOG meetings. Similarly, the NPL, in accordance with its Constitution is to convene an Annual General Meeting [AGM] every year before the new football season commences and the MC is obliged to present audited financial results to be approved by the AGM. So, I am not qualified to give you any financial results of the NPL at this stage. The NPL is in a closed period while our audit process is underway. We will inform the public, through the media, of course at the most appropriate time following the AGM about the NPL’s financials. For now, this matter is not open for public consumption.
Confidente: We have it on good authority that the NPL has exhausted their budget, if that is the case how will the NPL source for funds to address this rather unfortunate situation?
CM: I am an elected member of the NPL management committee, and I have it on good authority that the NPL has knocked at various doors for financial assistance. The budget that you talk about was for the 2015/2016 football season; and the period of that particular budget, as you are rightly saying has come to a successful end. However, the NPL office is still fully operational and all our employees are diligently reporting for duty on a daily basis, guaranteed of their monthly salaries. Is this state of affairs not telling anybody with a good mind about the good standing of NPL’s financial management and discipline?
The fact is, the NPL depends solely on sponsorships and registration fees from its member clubs, the former constituting the biggest chunk. NPL trades with football services to generate income; and very importantly, NPL is an organisation not for gain. We are not in the business to make profit. We are in the business of football where our financials are really to break even. So, we have engaged various stakeholders for whom we have presented sponsorship propositions and this is, fortunately or unfortunately a process that can go either way.
This is how we source for funding, and we will leave no stone unturned until we crack a good sponsorship deal.
Confidente: Obviously the NPL is not receiving any funds from MTC how has that affected the daily operations t of the NPL office?
CM: As you are rightfully aware, NPL cannot receive funds from MTC in the absence of a sponsorship contract. To date, the NPL office is in full swing, our staff and the administrative business of NPL runs normal. We do not have operational costs to pay for stadia, travelling, accommodation for referees as well as their match handling fees as we normally do while the league is in progress. We are in the window period of the league where only the administration of the league office is ongoing.
Confidente: Could you elaborate on the specific problems being experienced by your office and what do you think should be done to remedy the situation?
CM: The only problem we, as football experience, is not only unique to the NPL, this problem cut across the entire value chain of football in general. For example; NPL clubs experience the effects of ongoing financial constraints. NPL clubs rely on heavily on sponsorships, just as the league and our mother-body, the NFA do.
NPL clubs are probably worse affected by lack of funds because they have players on football contracts and who must earn regular and consistent monthly salaries. Namibians who allegedly claim that they love our beautiful game of football do not come to football matches anymore to assist their beloved clubs generate additional income through gate-takings. Clubs travel extensively to honour league matches around the country and the cost for travel, accommodation and meals put serious financial burdens on NPL clubs. Players inflict injuries during training and during official league matches, and medical attention does not come cheap.
So, where do you think should the money to sustain the clubs come from?
So, in an ideal situation, NPL clubs need to source additional sponsorships for themselves to complement the financial support they receive on a monthly basis from the NPL sponsorship. So, money has become a very scarce commodity, not only for NPL, equally so for the entire value chain of our beautiful game, starting at grassroots level where football should be taught and entrenched from foundation age levels of five years; and where in Namibia do we have this development?
In a nutshell, we, in the NPL do not have many problems. I am only aware of one problem boiling down to insufficient funds financial problem.
To remedy this problem is when we can crack a good sponsorship deal for NPL that will cover our N$24 million annual budget. We have engaged various stakeholders and presented good propositions and what NPL commits for such marketing investments. Once again, this is not only the problem for the MC to deal with, it is a Namibian problem, especially those we regard themselves as lovers our beautiful game.
Just imagine, if Namibian football lovers can fill our stadiums at least in the same fashion that we as Namibians did when South Africa’s Orlando Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns played each other in the Dr. Hage Geingob Cup a few weeks ago? The gate-takings generated by NPL clubs will be more than enough for clubs to manage their annual budgets. Regrettably, we had been seriously indoctrinated by the previous political dispensation that we still believe, 26 years post-independence, in products and services coming from south of the Orange River. We, do not even believe in our own football players, boys who come from our homes, our communities and youngsters we have raised. Instead, we reject them by not coming to local football matches. And how do we expect the NPL management committee should persuade local corporates to sponsor football if the very same Namibians, who are our people do not exhibit the courtesy and patriotism to at least fill our stadiums with half its capacity?
I also want to through the ball in the court of our dedicated sport journalists to write the kind of investment articles and stories that can potentially lure sponsors to invest in football sponsorship. How many South Africa companies do we have in Namibia that export billions of Namibian dollars for investment in the South African Rand. NPL and NFA will be grateful if the media can join us in our quest to search for football sponsorship, because it is us in the NPL and NFA that enable sport journalists to have a good newspaper product to sell; as many football people mostly read newspapers from the back pages. So, I want to stress that football sponsorship affects the entire value chain of football and sport journalists are an integral part of this value chain.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015