… As 12 May NPL start stumbles
By John Tuerijama
MEDDLING by the Namibia Football Association (NFA), in the affairs of the Namibia Premier League (NPL), has plunged the topflight league into a new crisis, with revelations emerging this week that negotiations around a fresh sponsorship deal with MTC have now stalled.
It has also emerged that the league, which has been in limbo since September last year, will no longer start on 12 May.
The NFA recently disbanded the NPL interim committee, which had been mandated to conclude a new sponsorship deal with MTC, following a State House intervention in March.
The intervention by President Hage Geingob, who is the patron of the NFA, had brought the country’s football stakeholders to the table to resolve funding issues and facilitate the start to the league.
During the meeting, the NPL interim management committee, under the chairmanship of Franco Cosmos, announced that the new season would kick off on 12 May, which is the birthday of Founding President, Dr Sam Nujoma.
However, the unceremonious disbanding of the NPL interim committee, which was replaced with an NFA-appointed ad hoc committee, under the stewardship of Roger Kambatuku, has now taken things from bad to worse.
The NFA, which has reportedly run football into the ground, is allegedly trying to hijack the N$15 million per year MTC sponsorship, and alienate the NPL interim committee, which has received the backing of Geingob and MTC, to revive the national football league.
In letter dated 9 May, which was sent to Sport, Youth and National Service Minister, Jerry Ekandjo, to ask for his intervention, Cosmos said that on 28 April, the NFA called the NPL interim committee to a meeting, to inform them that we are illegal, and that they therefore cannot be recognised. The NFA’s argument was that the previous NPL chairman, Johnny Doeseb, and his management committee was forcefully removed, which was not the case, as they all tendered their resignations.
“Despite this fact, that the NFA declared us illegal, and does not recognise the NPL interim committee, and they created an ad hoc committee, and appointed all five NPL interim committee members into that ad hoc committee of the NFA,” Cosmos wrote.
“The NFA further decided that all the sponsorships that we have secured for the NPL will be signed off by the NFA President, Frans Mbidi, and the ad hoc committee will be chaired by Roger Kambatuku, from the NFA structures.
“Ranga Haikali and I did not accept the appointments into the ad hoc committee of the NFA, for obvious reasons. As a result of that impasse, the NPL won’t be kicking off on 12 May, in honour of our Founding Father’s birthday, and also as promised to our Head of State, and the entire Namibian nation.”
Cosmos further told the minister that the NPL is an autonomous body, which “runs its own affairs without any interference from any other body including the NFA”.
“We plead for your interventions, to resolve this impasse for us, to be able to run our own affairs, without any interference from the NFA.”
MTC Acting Managing Director, Thinus Smit, made it clear in an interview this week that, “MTC has committed to sponsor the NPL and that this commitment has not been retracted”.
The company’s Human Capital Officer, Tim Ekandjo, told Confidente that they had been dealing solely with NPL interim committee, before its disbandment.
“I called a meeting with the NFA and the NPL interim committee last week Wednesday, but it did not take place due to unforeseen circumstances (the disbandment of the committee). I wanted to have clarification on why the NPL interim committee did not come back to us, since we had negotiations solely with them.
“Secondly, we wanted to know, since they announced 12 May as the kickoff date for the new season, why some clubs have not yet registered their players,” said Ekandjo.
“We also wanted to know whether all clubs have paid their affiliation fees. You know, we wanted the presence of the NPL interim committee, since they made the announcement and some of them own premier league clubs.”
Ekandjo said the telecoms giant also wanted to know if the NFA could legally sign a sponsorship agreement, on behalf of the NPL.
He said they had been in negotiations with the NPL interim committee, which was part of the football stakeholders meeting with President Geingob in March, but admitted that MTC was now in the dark, since the disbanding of the committee.
At the State House gathering, MTC had in principle agreed to fund the NPL.
The NPL is in the midst of a torrid battle to resume league action, after its sole sponsor, MTC, withdrew its sponsorship at the end of the 2015/16. The league has been in limbo since September last year, after MTC withdrew their sponsorship of N$15 million per year for three years, because the league had failed to secure an additional sponsor to supplement the budgetary shortfall of N$9 million per year.
The league had also previously been assigned a February start date, which never materialised.
Confidente is also informed that MTC has taken a decision to only deal with the NPL interim committee.
It also emerged this week that Black Africa, Tigers and Orlando Pirates are yet to register their footballers for upcoming league action.
Confidente has also learnt that the NPL had asked the NFA to extend the deadline for the registration of players, after the initial deadline had passed on 13 April.
However, there now appears to be confusion over whether the condonation request was granted or not. However, this is of little consequence, as the three clubs have not yet registered their players, to date.
Rukoro is reportedly out of the country, attending a FIFA Congress in Bahrain in the Persian Gulf, and is expected back home this coming Monday.
Black Africa Manager, Kandas Paulino, said their players have not been registered, because they have no money to remunerate them, due to absence of the sponsorship.
“How are we going to pay our players, if there is no sponsor? We said,‘let us first get the sponsorship agreement signed and know how much we are getting from the sponsorship deal, and then we can have players registered’,” Paulino said.
He said that they do not want a situation where players will drag the club to the Labour Court for non-payment.
“Once we contract players, it means players must be paid a salary, and we don’t want to be seen as hiding from our responsibilities, but all we want, just like we said with regard to the Debmarine Namibia Cup, is that we first should get the league sponsor on board, before taking part in the cup competition,” said the former Black Africa player.
“We are all worried about the current status quo, and yes, the bottom line is that we will not have our players registered until a sponsor is on board. We don’t even have money to pay for the training field, transport fuel and all that is needed. Players will demand their salaries and that is why we, and some other clubs, have discontinued the contracts with players last season, because we couldn’t afford them,” Paulino added.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015