Despite finishing fifth in the Premier League, last season was one to forget for Gaborone United.
The Reds were plagued by off-field problems, most of which stemmed from their crippling financial hardships.
Indeed, GU were less The Money Machine and more The Cashless Club as towards the end of the season it was revealed they only had P3, 000 left in the bank.
Players were not paid for four months, which led to the entire squad going on strike. Twice Moyagoleele fielded incomplete teams, turning up for their Premier League fixture against Santos with just eight men – a game that was delayed by an hour and GU eventually lost 2-1, finishing the match with 11 players after three turned up late.
Shortly after the Santos debacle, the club’s popular coach, Rodolfo Zapata quit, the over P300, 000 he was allegedly owed in unpaid wages having a big part to play in the Argentine’s decision to leave.
Unsurprisingly, GU’s off-field woes eventually took their toll on performances on the pitch. The club won just one of their last six league games, a 2-1 victory over already-relegated Gilport Lions on the final day of the season.
Things have not improved in the off-season either.
A mass exodus of players has overshadowed the club’s pre-season build up. The transfer window has seen GU’s highly rated youngsters, Kabelo Seakanyeng and Thatayaone Kgamanyane leave for South African PSL side Chippa United on a three-year deal.
Experienced trio Thatayaone Ditlhokwe, Jackson Lesole and Tumisang Orebonye – the team’s spine last season – have all made the short journey across Gaborone to join city rivals Township Rollers.
Jwaneng Galaxy have also raided GU for midfield pair Karabo Phiri and Kutwelo Mpolokang.
It is against this bleak backdrop that the six-time league Champions have turned to elders for guidance – or even salvation.
Giving the media an update on the state of the club, Tymon Katlholo – a member of GU’s Elder Committee – said fielding an incomplete team last season was an unusual experience for the Reds in their prestigious 51-year history.
He explained that at the end of the season the Executive Committee held a special general meeting to discuss their problems.
“It emerged from that meeting that things were not going well and it was resolved that another meeting be organised in Palapye, where it was further resolved that the team be under the care of elders,” he told Voice Sport.
“The general assembly referred to section 10 of our constitution which stipulates that when a team is in an emergency or crisis situation the assembly will make a declaration and the team management be given to the Elders Committee.
“The circumstances that defined emergency situation are when the executive committee resigned in mass or when the committee is unwilling to discharge its duties and obligation and the club is in danger of falling into social financial crises,” continued Katlholo, who explained that the Elders Committee must be in charge for three months to stabilise the situation before calling an elective general meeting.
According to Katlholo, at the moment the elders committee is allowed to nominate and appoint an Interim Executive Committee until the time a substantive committee is elected.
“We had a big picture and experienced challenges but they do not exceed the purpose we want to achieve which is to restore the team’s dignity. GU is a big team with some historical significant to this country so we need to secure it,” he added passionately.
For his part, former GU player Kaizer Brown revealed the Interim Committee would be led by the previous committee’s Chairman, Boitumele Nsunge, to ensure continuity.
He said they are currently trying to secure a sponsor for the club and are confident of securing a deal by the time the league start’s next month.