MASERU — The Top Mount Inter-District Football Tournament hangs in the balance after its main benefactor last week threatened to withdraw sponsorship of the lucrative competition citing lack of transparency.
The tournament, scheduled for March 6 and 7, is contested by selected teams from Lesotho’s ten districts and has been played for the past two years — Mohale’s Hoek winning the 2008 edition and Maseru last year.
The event is bankrolled by the BAM Group of Companies — and is a reincarnation of the Bambatha Tšita Top Mount Competition, which ran in the 1980s under former Lesotho Football Association president, Bambatha Tšita.
But the company — which is owned by Tšita’s daughters — has announced it would not sponsor the tournament this year, unless all District Football Associations submit their 2009 financial reports. It is understood all associations were expected to have presented their reports to BAM by November 13 last year.
And after failing to meet the initial deadline, it was extended to November 27 but only Butha-Buthe, Mokhotlong and Qacha’s Nek managed to meet the extension.
“As a sponsor, you can’t just pour in money without knowing what is happening to it. We have no idea how it has been spent,” BAM Consultancy director Ntšepeng Tšita told the Sunday Express on Wednesday.
“(But) pulling out would not be the right words. It means we would not sponsor the tournament for this calendar year.”
Tšita could not say whether they had planned any increase in prize-money this year.
“This development is quite unfortunate, but I can’t disclose the plans we could have had because of this situation,” she said.
The firm — which sponsored last year’s edition of the competition to the tune of M300 000 — had specified how the prize-money was to be used, which had been agreed to by Lefa.
BAM had wanted associations to use 50 percent of their winnings to acquire equipment for development, with the rest going towards preparations for this year’s competition.