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Lioli score another first

Teboho Molapo


MASERU — Lioli are quickly becoming synonymous with trendsetting.

The Teyateyaneng giants are on the cusp of scoring another first by becoming the first Premier League club to offer players contracts.

Football in Lesotho is played at an amateur level with players not getting wages for their efforts.

Players are loosely tied to their clubs through merely being registered by the clubs with the Premier League.

But Lioli — who became the first top-flight club to have an official business partner and a kit sponsorship deal — want to change that.

Lioli president Lebohang Thotanyana told the Sunday Express the historic plans to contract players were at an advanced stage.

“We are busy finalising contracts for our players as we speak,” he said. “By next season every Lioli player will have a contract.”

“As trendsetters we are again showing the way,” he added. “We are also placing an order for the fencing which will be erected around our ground.”

Thotanyana was not comfortable discussing the monetary figures players were likely to get once they signed the contracts.

“A contract means there is a contractual obligation between the players and the club,” he said. “The payment issue will be tackled as we progress.”

The news comes a week after the Premier League lifted the ban it had slapped on Lioli’s executive committee in March.

The ban was lifted after Lioli successfully appealed against the decision to the Lesotho Football Association’s appeals board.

Besides Thotanyana, the other Lioli executives banned were club secretary Chaka Chaka and treasurer Likotsi Likotsi as well as communications manager Moeketsi Pitso and administrator Nthako Majoro.

The Premier League had found Lioli guilty on two counts of misconduct deemed especially grave.

Count one of the charges related to when Tse Nala wrote to the Confederation of African Football last October after they were denied the opportunity to represent Lesotho in the 2010 African Champions League.

The second count arose when Lioli subsequently took the matter to the High Court the following month.

The club’s executive board was subsequently banned until December 31 2014.

Lioli were also slapped with a record M10 000 fine and had been docked 15 points, although the latter punishment was suspended until December 31 2012 on condition the club did not commit a similar offence.

Thotanyana refused to discuss the lifting of the ban, saying Lioli were only interested in moving forward after a season in which the 2009 league champions made headlines for all the wrong reasons.

“We don’t want to get into the merits of the (ban). In the end the best way forward is to create peace,” he said.

Lioli surrendered the Premier League title to Matlama in the just-ended season.

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