Sponsor exodus looms

Namibia Premier League (NPL) benefactor MTC has requested the league to amicably resolve the standoff between itself and the Fifa-appointed normalisation committee (NC), so the new season can commence.

According to a statement released on Monday by MTC’s Tim Ekandjo a failure to do so within the given 14 days, which ends on 21 October, will force the league’s main sponsor to reconsider its sponsorship.

“Subsequently, we have taken note of the NPL’s suspension by the Fifa normalisation committee, which is indeed worrisome.

“Given these developments, and the negative brand reputation concerns we highlighted in our previous correspondence, MTC gives the NPL 14 days to amicably resolve this standoff,” said Ekandjo.

MTC and FNB Namibia sponsors the league to the tune of N$15 million and the N$5 million, respectively, per year.

The telecoms giant has injected close to N$133 million into the league since 2001. FNB, through Gordon Pokolo, said they still haven’t heard from the NPL and could not pronounce themselves on the way forward.

Prior to its ultimatum, MTC wrote to the NPL and NC a week ago seeking clarity on the way forward for Namibian football and the future of the players, who survive from playing the sport.

This was a day before the NC suspended the NPL for not adhering to directives, specifically thus refusing to admit relegated Orlando Pirates and Civics back into the league for the new season.

The NPL then called an urgent board of governors (BoG) meeting for Monday to discuss the way forward, but the gathering was postponed to a later date.

Bound by contract

According to the contract between MTC and the NPL, seen by Namibian Sun and which Ekandjo verified as authentic, MTC can terminate the agreement if it is of the reasonable opinion that the conduct of NPL officials, agents and/or players is bringing the company or the league into disrepute or ridicule.

It has the right call on the NPL to remedy the matters complained about and any failure by the NPL to remove the cause of the complaint within 14 days of having been called on in writing by MTC to do so, shall entitle MTC to cancel the agreement.

MTC also has the option to terminate the contract if the number of clubs or the league is changed without its prior written consent.

Ekandjo did not respond to the question of whether MTC received information about the NPL’s decision to start the league with 13 clubs, and not the 16 for which the sponsor has been dishing funds out for.

The country’s first division streams failed to kick off last season, so there could be no promotions to the NPL, while Young African were demoted for fielding a foreign player who registered under a fake name.