Chairman of the Namibia Premier League (NPL) Johnny ‘JJD’ Doeseb has only one shot to take – and will have to get it right if he is to save the jobs and secure the fate of more than 450 footballers plying their trade in the country’s flagship league.
After months of uncertainty over the status quo of Namibian football, it became quite clear yesterday that the country’s football is in shambles and something drastic has to be done to rescue one of the biggest industries that employs over 450 of the country’s youth.
At a well-attended press conference in Windhoek yesterday, the country’s biggest sole football sponsor MTC announced that it will not renew or venture into a new three-year sponsorship agreement with NPL until the league meets new certain non-negotiable conditions, which includes finding an additional league sponsor on or before July 30, and that the NPL give MTC sufficient proof that such a sponsor has been secured.
After the sponsorship agreement between MTC and NPL came to an end in May this year, the league approached MTC with a new and much improved proposal aimed at taking Namibian football, the premier league in particular, to greater heights where footballers’ prosperity would be put at the fore.
During a presentation to the MTC Executive on June 15, the NPL presented a budget of more than N$23 million that would see the following being implemented over a period of three years. The league’s proposals contained the following:
• An increase in monthly grants for NPL clubs from N$45 000 to N$63 000 per month, amounting to a total of N$10.1 million per annum.
• Prize monies increased from N$2.1 million to N$3 million.
• Intention to appoint a full-time Chief Operating Officer and a Referees Coordinator.
• Single headers per weekend as opposed to the current double headers played over weekends.
• The league’s intention to gradually bring the total number of clubs from 16 to 12.
• Budget for the NPL awards ceremony increased from N$250 000 to N$500 000.
• First Division N$3 million budget.
In summary, the NPL presented a new budget to MTC which totals N$23 736 000, an increase of N$9 172 766 from the last annual sponsored amount of N$14 563 234, essentially a 62% increase from previous budget.
In response to the NPL’s new and ambitious sponsorship proposal, MTC yesterday agreed in principle to ‘consider’ going into another three-year sponsorship agreement with the NPL, but only if the following conditions are fully met without delay or negotiation. The conditions are as follows:
• MTC is willing to commit an annual sponsorship of N$15 million (N$45 million over 3 years) on condition that the NPL finds an additional sponsor that will cover the deficit in the new budget amounting to N$9 172 766 (more than N$27 million over 3 years). This will ensure that the new league season does not commence with a deficit that will later become MTC’s problem.
• The NPL must commit to finding the additional sponsor on or before July 30, and NPL must give MTC sufficient proof that such a sponsor has been secured.
• The NPL must ensure that the additional sponsor is not in direct competition with MTC, and that their sponsorship commitment of N$9 172 766 million per annum must run over 3 years.
• The NPL must ensure that MTC maintains naming rights of the league and have its logo on the chest of all (not some) NPL teams, as MTC will rightfully remain the majority sponsor of the league.
• The NPL must therefore ensure that MTC’s rights do not conflict with those of the additional sponsor.
• Should the NPL fail to source an additional sponsor as stipulated above, on or before July 30, MTC will automatically withdraw its intention to sponsor the league with N$15 million per annum on the said expiry date.
• MTC will not entertain any proposals by the league to commence the league season with MTC’s N$15 million while they make other plans, or put into motion fundraising activities, whatsoever, or advance the alternative to restructure its budget within the N$15 million, if all else fails.
MTC’s Tim Ekandjo amplified the seriousness of their conditions and said the following: “We have been informed that you are planning to commence with the 2016/17 league season on August 20 and it is therefore in the best interest of the NPL Executive to immediately commence complying with each and every one of the above conditions. We however trust that the league executives will exercise urgency and make every effort to secure the additional sponsor, as we are all well aware that the situation will be disastrous for Namibian soccer if the league does not secure an additional sponsor. It will therefore take a collective effort of all stakeholders in Namibia to salvage the situation.”
He further said both organisations will again jointly convene a press conference on August 8 to give feedback as to whether they have managed to secure a new sponsor to cover the deficit or not, adding that only two things will happen at that occasion – “if NPL managed to secure an additional sponsor based on our conditions, MTC will commit to renew the MTC/NPL agreement for the next three years; if they failed to secure an additional sponsor, MTC will not enter into a new agreement.”
On his part, Doeseb promised to explore every possible avenue to ensure that the additional sponsor is secured well on time and within the required conditions.