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Bantu boss speaks on league suspension


Moorosi Tsiane

BANTU president Leuta John Leuta says Econet Premier League teams will face serious financial challenges if the league is postponed beyond 22 April 2020.

The league is currently on a Coronavirus induced break until 22 April.

The Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) on Thursday announced that football activities would remain suspended until 22 April. This was on the back of the government’s announcement of a lockdown starting from today until 21 April in an attempt to keep the Coronavirus at bay.

Although Lesotho is yet to record any cases, the virus has so far killed one person and infected 1170 people in neighbouring South Africa.

Bantu who have been in fine form this season having gone on an 18-match unbeaten run this season. The side tops the 14-team league table with 50 points while Matlama trails in second but 16 points adrift.

Leuta told the Sunday Express on Friday that in as much as they welcome the LeFA decision to suspend the league, it is also going to be a challenging period for teams to survive when they are not getting any income from their matches.

Bantu is one of the few local teams that can afford to pay monthly allowances for their players and Leuta fears that they may struggle financially if they do not get revenue from gate takings.

“This is a good decision but at the same time, it is a tough challenge for our businesses because a football makes money only when it is active,” Leuta said.

“Our teams make money from playing and promoting our sponsors. We also make money through gate takings.

“With no income, it is going to be tough for the teams to survive. For this next month, of course; we can survive but I foresee problems if the suspension goes beyond one month.”

The former Premier League Management Committee (PLMC) chairperson said they will be left with no other option but to negotiate with their players.

“The suspension has affected everyone including the corporate world. We will have to engage with our players if the suspension goes beyond 22 April.”

There is a likelihood that if the coronavirus situation does not improve, then teams may be forced to play behind closed doors but Leuta said that would also put the players at the risk of contracting the virus.

“If we are saying the matches should be played behind closed doors, how sure are we that the players will be safe? Are they not going to infect each other? Do we have measures in place to see that every player will be in good health?

“I think we should not risk the lives of the players. We would rather wait for three months. Also, if we take the route of playing in empty stadiums, then the teams would still not make any money.”

Some have suggested that the season be discontinued but Leuta said it would be difficult to implement.

“Discontinuing the league would cause problems because we have running contracts with sponsors. The only option is to wait as long as it takes. There are only a few matches left and they can all be played within one month. So, let’s wait,” Leuta said.

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