The fragile condition of Namibian football has been thrown into further turmoil as one of the country’s leading football clubs Black Africa dropped a bombshell by announcing that it has grounded its entire playing personnel and technical stuff.
Club honcho Ranga Haikali, a former trade unionist, sent shockwaves through the football fraternity when the business mogul boldly issued a marathon press release announcing management’s resolution to realign the club’s structures. As a result, contracted players and the coaching stuff have been told in no uncertain terms where to get off, effective as of May 31.
In a well-articulated press release, the management outlined its current position and why it felt obliged to take drastic measures to save the club from immediate insolvency, if the current status quo remains.
Haikali said BA’s management has monitored the wobbling financial performance of the club over the last two years and it was evident that running costs escalated to unsustainable levels, while income decreased significantly.
BA’s failure to reclaim the coveted MTC Premiership title and NFA Cup over the past two seasons gravely affected the club’s income streams, which created further financial instability, explained the BA Board chairman.
“Despite several attempts to generate additional income, management was unsuccessful, leading liabilities to exceed the assets,” he continued. Furthermore, Haikali believes it has become inevitable for management to contain costs, without compromising the operational effectiveness of the club to eventually transform into a sustainable brand.
“This has necessitated us to interrogate the situation and eventually roll out a comprehensive restructuring and re-alignment of our sport club to subsequently facilitate a sustainable structure.”
Haikali stressed that the decision was by no means an easy assignment for the management team, as it considered all the emotional response this unpopular strategic decision would evoke.
Like any other NPL club, Black Africa is required to register a minimum of 25 players, but the club registered 33 at the beginning of the 2015-2016 football season.
“In view of the above, management decided to implement the following measures with immediate effect: (1) Terminate the contracts of all technical staff and players, effective from 31st May; (2) Re-negotiate all contracts of the technical team with new terms and conditions to be completed by latest end of June; (3) Instruct the new technical team to recruit players from the current BA players, as well as from outside; (4) Reduce other administrative costs and any other costs that need to be contained.”
Haikali concludes by saying the affected players have been officially informed – apart from those on national duty and out of town – that their current contracts will be terminated as of the end of May.
“We fully understand the action taken may be viewed as drastic. However, we believe this decision is in the best interest of the club and players in the current difficult financial situation.”
Meanwhile, local football guru and former NPL chairman Hendrik Christian says Haikali and his management will have a lot of explaining to do, describing the decision as “sheer constructive dismissal”.
“This is quite an interesting episode that has unfolded in Namibian football. It’s no longer a football matter. It’s a labour case, because normal procedures when winding up a company appear to have been ignored.
“He (Haikali) must first file for bankruptcy before they can embark on taking such drastic measures in practice,” charged the self-styled legal expert. It is not yet clear whether BA will pay out the affected personnel for the remainder of their contracts, as their contracts have been summarily terminated, which as Christian says, likely constitutes a form of constructive dismissal.