NPL rebel clubs left punching dead air

Windhoek-In a highly contested letter dated October 17, 2017, four Namibia Premier League (NPL) clubs wrote to the league's leadership requesting the immediate postponement of all NPL activities scheduled for this weekend, saying they are operationally not ready to partake in any league activities at this stage.

Tigers FC, Black Africa FC, Orlando Pirates FC and Blue Waters FC, through their lawyer Sisa Namandje and Co. Incorporated, on Tuesday wrote to NPL chairman Patrick Kauta instructing him to halt the launch of the league (which was launched yesterday) and subsequently freeze all NPL activities at least until early next year.

In the letter, the four clubs cited the lack of playing personnel and other operational matters as their main reason for the postponement request. They also insisted that the league cannot start this weekend as it would mean the 2017/18 football season will be played outside the Fifa football season calendar, which runs from February to November each year.

Another reason the four clubs advanced is that they did not expect the league to start this year and thus saw no reason to sign new players or offer new contracts to the various players on their books.

As a result, the four aggrieved clubs requested the league's leadership to accord them six weeks to get their houses in order before committing themselves to league activities. The clubs said if their wishes were not granted, they would not partake in any league activities this weekend.

The letter, written on October 17, demanded that the NPL leadership respond on or before 19 October which is today.

But speaking at the official launch of the league yesterday, NPL chairman Patrick Kauta spoke at length to put the aggrieved clubs' letter into perspective ,while also pointing out why it bears no relevance to the commencement of local football at this point in time.

First and foremost, Kauta said, all 16 league clubs were on September 6 clearly informed about the league's kick off, where the league's leadership indicated their intension to start on October 13 meaning from September 6 all clubs had roughly about seven weeks to prepare and start luring potential players.

In view of the above, Kauta said he was surprised that the four clubs were claiming they did not expect the league to start this year. Therefore Kauta made it clear that the request would not be entertained and if any of the aggrieved clubs decided not honour their league fixtures, there are rules and laws of the NPL in place to deal with that.

Kauta, a veteran highly respected lawyer, further said when the NPL leadership shifted the league's kick-off date from October 13 to October 20, all clubs were automatically accorded a grace period to put their respective houses in order, but some deliberately chose to resort to delaying tactics in the name of politics.

As far as the claim that the NPL is starting outside the Fifa football season calendar, NPL league administrator Tovey Hoebeb laughed off the claims, asking why if the Fifa football season calendar starts in February and ends in November, would Fifa allow all other leagues in the world to play their 2017/18 seasons until next year May.

For instance, the South African Premier Soccer League (PSL), which also plays under and adheres to the very same Fifa football season calendar, launched their league activities on August 20 and will run until May 2018.

This suggests the four clubs' claim that the NPL's 2017/18 season starting this weekend is unlawful is totally off the mark and misleading, it emerged.

To add more damage to the letter, late yesterday coastal giants Blue Waters FC replied to Sisa Namandje and Co. Incorporated, informing the law firm that they were not now and were never one of the four clubs advocating to the halt of football.

Therefore, we urge your office not to cite Blue Waters FC as party in all your correspondence or action regarding this matter, reads part of the Blue Waters letter.

Also late yesterday, New Era Sport was reliably informed that Orlando Pirates had equally distanced themselves from the Sisa Namandje and Co. Incorporated letter, with sources saying the club had indicated its readiness to partake in the NPL.

This means only Black Africa and Tigers FC are now alone in their call for a further delay, as the other 14 clubs are said to be busy gearing up for this weekend's action.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia