By John Tuerijama
FOOTBALL fans will be disappointed to learn that there is no end in sight for the woes that have bedevilled the Namibia Premier League, the country’s flagship football league.
Since April last year, when the league concluded proceedings for the 2015/16 season, things have not been smooth sailing. The main sponsor, MTC, dangled a carrot but also wielded a big stick at the same time, offering N$15 million in sponsorship, but only if the NPL could get an additional N$9 million to bring the total amount to N$24 million.
As things stand, the relationship between the NPL and MTC has officially come to an end with both the company’s board chairman Elvis Nashilongo and spokesperson, Tim Ekandjo confirming as much on various media platforms.
In between, the NPL effected a regime change, with Johnny Doeseb forced to resign before he was pushed out via a vote of no confidence. Those who advocated for his ouster went around telling everyone who cared to listen that Doeseb’s departure will usher in a wave of sponsorships. Alas, it has been two weeks now and there is still no indication of a sponsorship from the newly-installed Interim Committee under the chairmanship of legal eagle, Franco Cosmos.
The mandate of the Interim Committee, amongst others, is to ensure that it holds the fort for the next six months within which period there should be an elective congress and a sponsor found.
Confidente Sport approached the Interim Committee’s liaison officer, Evaristus Evaristus who shed some light on the plans, hopes and challenges that his committee has to navigate to get the league to start.
Confidente: The soccer fraternity was told that the 2016/17 season was going to kick off in February but we have passed that date. When can we expect the new season to kick off?
EE: Thank you for the opportunity to engage with the readers. On this question we will be bluntly honest to state that we have no definite answers. The honest part and ultimate sad reality is that with no sponsors on board the league cannot start or be operational in whatever format or shape. The main item on our agenda is to first secure sponsorship and then we can have a lengthy discussion on the matters of operations vis-a-vis the league commencement and other statutory obligations.
Confidente: The previous BoG has approached over 35 companies but has received responses from only two companies. Despite those efforts, no sponsorship deal has been signed. How will your interim committee approach the sourcing of sponsors to avoid going to companies that were already approached?
EE: We will have to keep knocking on doors, unfortunately. In simple terms, we will work tirelessly to find the sponsors but it will not be an easy task, but it all depends on what we place on the table for a potential sponsor to consider as a value proposition for return on their investment.
Confidente: Will your committee revise the N$24 million budget proposal to come up with a realistic budget proposition?
EE: In the context of what has been planned, the amount has always been a realistic amount as approved by the members. As a measure of intervention and strategic mitigation, that could be a consideration. However, as an interim leadership our departing point is to relook at other models of source funding/solicitations to ensure that we put together a viable business plan, with clear guiding objectives and a roadmap that is realistic with measurable outputs.
Confidente: Premier League teams have threatened to boycott the Debmarine Namibia Cup as they apparently cannot contract players because of lack of money. What is your advice to the teams in terms of paying their affiliation fees and contract players?
EE: The right to expression and right to gather in the pursuance of demands is a legitimate one. If it comes to that there is obviously very little that the interim committee can do. But I believe that currently Debmarine Namibia is the only entity that has shown faith and conviction to see the silver lining in supporting football despite the problems we are facing. So as leadership of various clubs, we must honour and appreciate by participating. It is one way of showing support and commitment by acknowledging sponsors. We cannot afford to place a wedge between us and the sponsors whom we so dearly need during this impasse.
Confidente: Should there be teams that have not paid their affiliation fees to the NPL, what is likely to happen to such teams and will they be allowed to contest for the Debmarine Namibia Cup?
EE: Punitive measures in my opinion have never been a solution, but dialogue has. We must also remember that 80 percent of our clubs had relied heavily on the annual grants from our previous sponsors MTC to adhere to their league obligations and with that gone – their situation is just a reflective of what the entire football fraternity is going through. Fortunately, affiliation to the league is honoured to date.
Confidente: Football critics are now calling on the Interim Committee to revisit and implement the 2009 Windhoek Declaration and the 2010 Strategic Plan. Will the Interim Committee revisit those decisions taken and how fast will you implement the Windhoek Declaration?
EE: We are not dismissive of this important manifest, but it is premature at this stage to make assertions, subtractions, or any comments in pursuance of this as an interim committee which is entrusted with a clear mandate. So, I cannot provide a substantive answer regrettably to this question.
Confidente: Former BoG chairperson, JJD has alleged tribalism and back-stabbing as the reasons for his resignation. In that aftermath of his resignation, some football commentators have called for an investigation to be conducted. Will you consider such an investigation?
EE: Unfortunately, our mandate as the interim leadership was clearly spelled out, and it is the interest of commencement of the league by ensuring that we find a substantive sponsor, that is our primary and secondary focus. All other issues are but a deviation to our core objectives. We deplore all this vices of tribalism, high egos, self-belief and self-serving interests and as such Namibian football must now unite more than ever.
Confidente: It was reported earlier this year that JJD has remunerated the NPL staff from his personal finances because of the NPL’s empty coffers. How would you describe the financial standing of the NPL and are salaries of the staff members guaranteed?
EE: On the first part, I cannot provide comment. On the second part I will be placing a disclaimer here to state that from a financial standing we are truthfully placed between a rock and a hard place.
Confidente: NFA president, Frans Mbidi, has suggested that, in view of the current precarious situation, the Premier League teams should be incorporated into the first division and have the league start with the N$3 million from Groot System. What is your response to the suggestion made?
EE: On this question please permit us the opportunity to engage NFA before we can provide a substantive answer. In the absence of a dialogue, we cannot pre-empt the direction of the advice without us having understood and studied this overpoweringly.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015