FOUR Premier League sides, which took part in last year’s King Letsie III 50th Birthday Soccer Spectacular tournament, are crying foul over late payments.
The teams — Lioli, Linare, Matlama and Bantu — have not been given the promised replacement kit and reimbursed the expenses they incurred preparing for the event, which took place on July 7 at Setsoto stadium.
In separate interviews last week with the Sunday Express, the teams’ officials said the Premier League Management Committee (PLMC) and National Celebrations Committee (NCC) had let them down and were also not being sensitive to their plight.
According to Ratokelo Nkoka, who was a member of the NCC, the teams were selected based on their rich football history “connected with the Royal Family”.
The four sides were supposed to be presented with branded playing kit for the tournament but later told to use their own uniforms and print messages wishing the king a happy 50th birthday.
The teams were promised a replacement-kit after the tournament, but the Sunday Express has established this has not happened to date.
Linare Communications and Marketing Manager, Teboho Ntoane, whose team won the tournament, said: “We were told by the PLMC to use our own monies for the preparations and our own kit for the tournament, with the promise that we were going to be refunded and the kit replaced with a new one. The kit had to be replaced because it could no longer be used for league matches since it had been printed birthday messages.
“We were told the refunds would come soon after the tournament but this has not been the case.”
Ntoane said the clubs felt “let down” by the PLMC as “they were the ones who were negotiating on our behalf with the NCC”.
“First of all, these things were done in our absence and without our consent. But now, it is our burden because the PLMC failed to get to the bottom of this mess; we really feel that they have let us down,” Ntoane said.
“It appears some people wanted to make this tournament a success and take credit for it at our expense. This tournament was a total mess; the preparations were very poor, and the PLMC and NCC have totally failed us.”
Lioli spokesperson, Moeketsi Pitso also said the club was still waiting for the new kit and reimbursement for expenses incurred preparing for the championship.
“We are still waiting and the sad part is, for my team, we put the stickers on our special long-sleeved shirts, and we use those jerseys during the cold days, which means now we have to go back to the shop for new ones. But the question is; with whose money because it is a known fact that most local teams struggle financially and we are no exception,” Pitso said.
Bantu spokesperson, Bokang Phasumane and Matlama secretary-general, Thabo Nkhahle, also expressed similar disappointment over the issue.
Contacted for comment, the PLMC Public Relations Officer, Mosito Lekholoa confirmed the teams’ statements.
“We have been waiting in vain also and that does not sit well with us, especially me, as I was the coordinator between the NCC and the teams. The clubs were asked to handover their invoices showing all the costs pertaining to the tournament,” Lekholoa said.
“We have also written letters to the Home Affairs Principal Secretary but there are no answers to-date.’
National Events Coordinator, Khahliso Soro, acknowledged the late-disbursement of the refunds.
“I am aware that we have still not paid those monies and the problem was that the Premier League is not in government’s Integrated Financial Management Systems. That is why we could not pay the clubs last year and I have been negotiating with the Ministry of Finance to get them into the system so that we can pay them,” Soro said.
“But I cannot really say how long this is going to take but if it fails to materialise, I will leave it to our Principal Secretary to deal with it.”