The highly publicised financial difficulties of the Namibia Premier League (NPL) have reached worrisome levels, with NPL staff now literally surviving from the pockets of league chairman Johnny ‘JJD’ Doeseb.
Since the NPL parted ways with longtime partners MTC when their sponsorship agreement ended in May last year – which also saw subsequent negotiations fail to materialise – the league has been financially vulnerable and unable to finance its own activities – be it football-related or administrative.
The NPL’s financial woes are complicated by a gigantic N$24-million budget, which the league’s leadership has to secure in order for the NPL to regain normalcy and get all league activities back on track.
Equally, as a result of the NPL’s financial troubles more than 5 000 players have been without any income, as the financially-crippled NPL is in no position to provide the usual monthly grants to member clubs, many of whom depend solely on the NPL to fund their operations.
Not just the players that are affected, but the spillover effects of the league’s financial hiccups have also severely impacted on NPL staff, who face a precarious future as the league no longer has the funds to pay their monthly salaries and the other benefits that come with their employment packages.
It has since emerged that Doeseb came to the rescue of the NPL’s three key staff members by paying their November and December salaries out his own pocket.
The NPL monthly salary bill is estimated to be around N$65 000.
Contacted yesterday for an update on the NPL’s financial status and also to confirm whether he paid the salaries of the league’s employees from his personal funds, Doeseb said it was nothing to brag about, but something he did out of genuine concern.
“Yes, I paid their salaries for November and December from my own personal funds, because if I did not do so they would have gone on holiday without a cent and they have families to feed. I did not have to do this, but I did so in my personal capacity, even though it is not my responsibility to pay their salaries.
“Look my brother, I’m not here to score cheap political points, like some of those people who are saying I should resign or be forcibly removed, but fail to provide solutions that will help better Namibian football.
“I did what I did (pay the salaries) with my whole heart and out of genuine concern for my colleagues. Just like all of us, they too have families to feed and bills to pay and somebody needed to come to their rescue. So, as a responsible leader I did the little I could to help them out”, Doeseb said.
Meanwhile, the beleaguered NPL is still without a sponsor in 2017, despite the fact that the league is earmarked to kick off next month.
On this question Doeseb said: “We are well aware of the current financial situation the country and most businesses find themselves in, but while we are aware of these circumstances we will remain positive and follow every lead to ensure that we secure a sponsor.”
Asked whether the league will start in February, as announced by the NPL last year, the chairman explained that the league can only commence once a sponsor is secured and that the exact commencement date of the league is a secondary issue that will be ironed out by the NPL and the NFA, but there must be sufficient funds first.
At the end of last year, President Hage Geingob was widely quoted in the media saying government will not interfere in football matters, as FIFA does not allow government interference in football – a statement that was interpreted by many as meaning that government will not assist the NPL, despite hopes of a possible government bailout.
In response, Doeseb said there is a clear difference between engagement and interference, and that the soccer community is not asking government to interfere, but to intervene to find a solution to the problem that is a Namibian problem.
“Most governments in Africa give financial support to their leagues and national teams, because it is their responsibility, in conjunction with the private sector. In neighbouring Angola, for instance, the premier league is wholly sponsored by their government and that is not regarded as interference by FIFA at all.
“Our reality is that if the private sector does not rescue the situation and government turns their back on these youngsters they will go back onto the streets and become unemployed and it will unfortunately not be FIFA’s problem, but Namibia’s problem.
“We therefore call for positive and urgent engagement with all stakeholders to find a solution,” he concluded.
The 2016/7 season was due to have commenced in August 2016, but it seems only time will tell whether a solution will be found or whether prosperous Namibia will join other war-torn African countries that have no functioning professional football league.
The NPL has been without a sponsor since August 2016.