In order to mitigate the financial burden brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, top local football side Gaborone United (GU) is still paying its players allowances, this publication has established.
News of GU’s payment of allowances comes at a time when the BFA has just announced that the 2020/22 league season will start in August after the government recently approved a return to play. As the body responsible for local football, the BFA noted that resumption of football will be done in phases, the first phase having started earlier this month with Premiership teams advised to resume training.
Phase 2, which will start later this month, will feature pre-season tournaments before the start of the 2021/22 league season. “We are far from going back to competitive football,” GU director Nicholas Zakhem told The Business Weekly Sports.
“But when the season officially kicks off, we will assess the financial position of our club in light of the magnitude of league sponsorship, competitions at hand, and if there will be gate takings and other factors to see how much things are back to normal in terms of salaries. For now we are not paying full salaries. We are only assisting our players during these hard times.”
This publication understands that GU is not the only club paying allowances, Township Rollers and Jwaneng Galaxy being among others doing so. Local teams usually make money from gate takings, sales of replica shirt and monthly grants from the Botswana Football League. However, BFL is yet to announce the league sponsors, by how much the league will be sponsored and how clubs will generate revenue without spectators.
Meanwhile, Zakhem who is also a GU financier, has told this publication that the club’s monthly wage bill currently stands between P170 000 and P200 000. “Before football was suspended, it was in the region of P350 000 to P400 0000 a month,” he stated.
Regarding squad strength, Zakhem said GU is unlikely to sign new players prior to the start of the league because they have a complete squad. “If any players are needed, we will give it a thought at the start of the season,” he said.
But GU announced on Tuesday that it had parted ways with four players whose contracts ended. These are attacking midfielders Rentse “Gago” Keakabetse and Kutlo “Machine” Molelowamodimo, right back Mothata “Robbo” Lucas and central defender Zidane Kofa.
“We parted amicably with the four players following the advice of the technical team. We would like to thank the four players for their service and wish them well in their future endeavours,” GU’s official Facebook Page quoted the club’s General Manager, Thapelo Mothusi, as saying.