The Botswana Premier League (BPL) may be forced to delay the start of the league to allow affiliate clubs to formerly comply with FIFA and CAF licensing regulations. A grace period for clubs that may appeal the First Instance Body (FIB) recommendations may also be increased.
The BPL continues to face club-licensing dilemma as pressure mounts from both CAF and FIFA over compliance. An FIB report leaked to BG Sport this week has revealed how local clubs are struggling with this taxing and demanding process. According to the report, key areas to overcome in club licensing include consultation with stadium owners, fully furnished offices, contracts with secretariat and information relating to office bearers or owners.
Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) issued a circular no. 1128 in 2007 called FIFA club licensing regulations. The resolution was passed at the May 2007 congress intended to implement club licensing universally among members. BFA failed to effect the club licensing system since 2013 to date. The club-licensing manual was introduced by BFA as a plan to comply with the FIFA circular no. 1128. The newly introduced monitoring and evaluation instrument may force the league to commence with fewer clubs if any member fails to comply.
The licensing has been introduced to the national associations around the globe by FIFA and communicated through continental bodies as a ploy to curb maladministration, mismanagement and amateurism in some elite leagues. The local association failed to cascade the FIFA vision to make it realistic and achievable, some choosing to go the way local clubs are going about it.
Club licensing objectives as stated on the manual include ensuring that clubs have adequate levels of management and organisational administration and improve the economic and financial capability of clubs increased transparency and credibility. Clubs are expected to have signed contracts with their secretariat including medical doctors, general manager, finance manager, sporting arena and infrastructure. It is interesting to note that a number of clubs official documents from clubs in this regard do not satisfy the FIB. The confidential FIB report points on evaluation of files on club licensing indicate that clubs submitted documents without supporting documents. BG recently reported that a number of clubs signed deals with a number of skilled personnel for the sake of compliance.
The club licensing rules guide that all players are subject to medical tests before they could sign contracts with clubs. BG investigations have uncovered that clubs failed to exercise transparency and openness in player movements. BPL clubs failed to communicate lists of their transfer-listed players, new acquisition and those promoted from junior ranks if there are any. The local transfer window is known for quietness and its dullness over the years due to unprofessional and dubious ways of negotiating parties.
The local clubs had, in the past three transfer windows, complained of the delay in issuing foreign players with relevant work documents by the ministry of nationality, immigration and gender affairs. The ministry has set new standards for awarding permits to foreigners across all sectors, which include qualification and criminal records. BG Sport is reliably informed that BFA is yet to make a case to guide the ministry on requirements of work permit for footballers.
Article 3.3.3 of the club licensing manual states that, “only clubs which fulfil the criteria set out in this manual, at the deadline defined by the BFA, maybe granted a license to enter the domestic club competitions of the coming season.” The continental football authority is clear that there would be no mercy for clubs participating in CAF competitions. BTC premiership giants Township Rollers and Orapa United received a waiver from the appeals board after the FIB declined their applications and subsequently made it to CAF competitions. The 2016/17 league and cup Winners Township Rollers and Jwaneng Galaxy will have to pass the test to compete at the continental competitions.
FIB Chairman Mfolo Mfolo confirmed to BG Sport that they have completed the assessment of club files and communicated findings with all the 16 clubs. The adjudication process will follow after clubs rectify or correct their files. “No club satisfied the requirements, but most of them did try. A number of club performed poorly on sporting category which speaks to youth development structures and the finances,” explained FIB chairman. The aggrieved clubs will be given some time to appeal FIB ruling after adjudication process.
Footballers Union of Botswana (FUB) Secretary General Kgosana Masaseng revealed that in the past clubs used to submit false medical reports ahead of the new season. The bargaining body for professional players welcome club-licensing development as a step in the right direction. FUB believes licensing will somehow improve welfare of the players.