8 November 2018

Namibia: NPL Launch Shrouded in Confusion

The launch of the MTC Namibia Premier League was enveloped in confusion on Wednesday with uncertainty as to which teams will participate in this season's Premier League which kicks off on Friday evening.

What was supposed to be a swanky occasion to announce a N$20 million-plus sponsorship by MTC and FNB, turned into a sideshow as journalists bombarded the league chairman Patrick Kauta with questions regarding the unresolved issues of Young African and Okahandja United.

The league prosecutor, Kadhila Amoomo on Monday recommended that Young African should not be part of the league roster for the foreseeable future pending the finalisation of disciplinary proceedings against them for fielding a player last season who used a false identity.

Similarly, the Okahanda United case is also dragging on and threatening to derail the start of the league after defence force chief lieutenant general John Mutwa said the renaming and ownership transfer of Military School Okahandja, which falls under the Defence Force Foundation (DFF), to the community of Okahandja was unauthorised.

Kauta however refused to entertain these questions, saying it was not the proper platform.

"That question is inappropriate at this platform, we won't entertain destructive questions. Today we are celebrating the league's launch, and not some queer issues," he said, regarding the Young African case, adding that the Okahandja United issue did not resort under the jurisdiction of the NPL.

Tim Ekandjo of MTC said they expected to get some answers from the NPL regarding the outstanding issues.

"We had a meeting with the NPL and the sponsors and our understanding is that the league will start with 16 teams unless we hear otherwise. If anything changes we expect them (NPL) to inform the sponsors," he said.

Ekandjo said that MTC had been sponsoring the NPL for the past 18 years to a total amount of N$133 million, while this year's sponsorship will amount to N$15,4 million. Co-sponsor FNB Namibia will contribute N$5 million for this season's league.

Ekandjo, however, warned the NPL to sort out their continuous infighting.

"The argument that sponsors cannot talk about your infighting doesn't hold water. You run your affairs with the sponsors money so you can't tell us not to hold you accountable with our money. We will therefore hold the league accountable for what they promise to do with the sponsors' money," he said.

The vice chairman of the NPL, Kandas Paulino said that the league will start tomorrow evening and will run through till the end of May next year.

"It was supposed to start at the end of September, but we were still waiting for the names and identities of some of the promoted teams before we could finalise the league," he said, adding that the format will change to single headers this season in stead of the double headers of last season, where clubs were compelled to play two matches over a weekend.

"Clubs will also have leeway to decide where they want to play their home games. For instance, Black Africa could choose to play their home games in Omaruru, with the aim of taking the game to the people," he added.

Paulino said they were still in negotiations to appoint an acting CEO, while they were also negotiating with the Namibia Broadcasting Corporation to try and televise NPL matches.

"We are still in negotiations to appoint a league CEO, but discussions have taken longer than we thought. We are now considering appointing an acting CEO until the end of the season.

"Last season we started negotiations with the NBC to televise matches, but due to the financial situation in the country we could not make progress, but we will continue this season," he said.

Another issue that was raised was the gravel field of newly promoted Young Brazilians from Karasburg, but Kauta said that their field was fit for play.

"Young Brazilians will play their home matches in Karasburg unless they and any of the other teams agree otherwise. According to Fifa statutes their field is playable and we must applaud Brazilians for taking the game to Karasburg - they are the first team from Karasburg in the Premier League. They have earned their right to play in the Premier League and if other teams don't want to play there then it's tough luck to them."

Clubs, meanwhile will see a big increase in revenue with their monthly grants rising from N$60 000 last season to N$114 285 this season to enable them to honour their league fixtures.

The prize money will remain the same as last season with the winners receiving N$1 million, the runners-up N$500 000, the third placed team N$250 000 and the fourth placed team N$125 000.

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