By John Tuerijama
FOOTBALLERS are continuing to hope that a solution to sponsorship challenges will be found soon to enable them to take to the field and do what they do best which is playing football.
The Namibian Premier League (NPL) was supposed to kick off in mid-September this year but after the non-renewal of the sponsorship contract, league administrators were forced to find alternative means of funding, none of which have yet yielded any success.
The league has come to a standstill, leaving many club officials to scratch their heads while others have taken the bold step approach sponsors directly with a view to finding sponsors that could get the league to start in earnest.
Amidst all the efforts, club spectators have continued to wonder how much it really costs to run a premier league club and what challenges they face to mount a successful challenge for honours.
Confidente Sport has selected three clubs in the NPL, namely Black Africa, Civics and Tura Magic. These were chosen on the basis of their size and budget with Black Africa being the biggest, Civics the medium club and Tura Magic represent the low budget clubs.
Black Africa owner, Ranga Haikali, says with lack of infrastructure, support and other resources the club’s initial budget, when he took over the reins, was N$ 2.8 million in the first year. This has eventually escalated to N$ 3.85 million per annum in the fifth year.
With regard to how much it costs to run a club, Haikali said: “I can only restrict my input to the team Black Africa of which I am the sole shareholder. Having said that, BA’s strategic plan was the guiding document that led to the achievement of four consecutive season wins for Black Africa.”
“Such a plan requires a team effort and understanding of where you are and what you want to achieve. Our plan was ambitious, costly and well crafted,” said the business mogul.
Haikali said the club had to buy or rent much of the required infrastructure and other resources.
“I am talking of resources such as training fields, branding, fully fledged technical team in specialised fields such as fitness coaches, medic, physio, as well as nutritional supplements that require top performance from athletes and players of which the rest remain the innovation and technical abilities of the coaches.”
Haikali said Black Africa has mobilised sponsorships from the likes of First National Bank (FNB) for specific programmes, Safland for the bus, Namrisk for nutritional supplements, as well as from PC Centre, and Letshego for specific budgetary or infrastructure needs ranging from branding, clothing and corporate social responsibilities.
“I should, however, state that many of the sponsorships are specific and roughly 60 percent of the total budget for salaries and other operational cost remain uncovered by the sponsorship,” he stressed. Any team within our budgetary bracket is playing for a loss and not even breakeven,” noted Haikali.
“The players’ contracts make provision for bonuses that further put the sustainability of the budget cost in a difficult position,” he said.
Asked how much is required to mount a successful season, Haikali said an amount of N$3.1 million was needed to honour all league fixtures and to cover costs related to traveling, accommodation, and other necessary overheads.
With regard to whether he has received any return on his investment since taking over Black Africa, Haikali had this to say: “I stated it at many occasions that my investment was not profit driven but more to contribute to the professionalisation of the NPL, more so the job creation for many players who might not have educational qualifications but more of natural skills and ability to play football.”
“Football unites people, contributes to crime reduction, provides entertainment, increases family values and many other social benefits that cannot be quantified in monetary terms alone,” stressed the former trade unionist.
Looking at the pertinent challenges facing Black Africa, he said it all boils down to a pyramid structure where the regulatory framework such as the line ministry, sport commission, NFA, NPL and the clubs have to share the same vision and complement one another with support from the local authorities and the community filtering down the various clubs.
Regarding the ownership of a sporting facility Haikali said: “At the moment it remains a far cry without the support from all parties concerned. The maintenance of infrastructure on its own is a challenge.”
On his part, Civics FC Chairman, Donnelly Nell, said his club had in the past benefited from a very big private sponsor, in the form of Buschschule Namibia, an organisation that pumped money and resources into the club.
“Currently a lack of a private sponsor is a major problem in achieving our goals of making Civics a great team again,” he said.
As one of the clubs without a sponsor, Nell said the team relied on the monthly grants from the previous sponsor, MTC, and from own contributions but that was still not enough to mount a serious campaign for top honours.
Nell said the team is hard at work sourcing for a potential sponsor: “We are, but we cannot disclose any further information at this point as we are still at a premature stage of negotiations.”
Asked how much Civics FC needs to run a successful season, Nell said requirements differ from club to club but that an amount of amount of N$200 000 per month would be sufficient.
One of the smaller clubs in the NPL, Tura Magic, have run a low budget operation but have managed to stave off relegation for the past four seasons.
Club chairman, Peter Nakurua said in addition to the monthly grants from previous sponsor, MTC, Tura Magic was able to secure a sponsorship that helped to defray some operational costs.
Nakurua said the club’s four directors have also dug deep into their own pockets to cover some of the costs. “Our philosophy is youth empowerment and I can tell you without any hesitation that running a club in our NPL offers no opportunity for return on investment in its current form. In fact, many club owners and administrators commit their own resources, and this, as you know is unsustainable. It is therefore a miracle that we have been able to do as well as we did in our four seasons in the NPL,” said Nakurua.
Nakurua said an amount of N$ 150 000 per month will be reasonable to cover all costs during the season.
Looking at the challenges, Nakurua said Tura Magic is still young in the NPL but attracting supporters to the stadium was one of the main challenges.
“As announced earlier, the club has embarked on an expansion strategy which has worked very well so far,” he said. He said Magic has a women’s football club and is now in the process of establishing a netball team which will compete in the Khomas second division next year.
“Few other options, such as a volleyball and athletics clubs are also being considered for the medium to long term. This will ensure that Magic is not just a football but a sports club and we will be able to benefit from those numbers in terms of merchandise, gate revenue and other fund raising activities,” said the Tura Magic chairman.
When asked about the possibility of new directors coming on board, Nakurua said: “We have stated on numerous occasions that we are open to investors. The unfortunate thing is that people with money expect quick returns from football, they do not realise that we put in more than we get out,” he argued.
“That is the nature of Namibian football. I will only bear returns when we are fully professionalised. We therefore need to collectively re-model our sport in general and football in particular to create an opportunity for people to put their money into football,” said Nakurua.
Nakurua said the only thing that they as Tura Magic directors derive from their involvement in the club is the pleasure of giving young people an opportunity to play football and make them earn a living through playing football.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015