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Let the ball roll

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Let the ball roll
OWED: Premier League referees

BPL DISMISS FEARS OF DELAYED START TO THE SEASON

Botswana Premier League (BPL) CEO Styles Ntshinogang has confirmed the BTC Premiership 2018/19 season will start on Saturday as scheduled.

“It’s all systems go,” Ntshinogang assured Voice Sport, dismissing fears the start of the league would be delayed due to a potential referees’ strike brewing over unpaid wages.

“The referee situation will be sorted by Thursday (16 August),” promised Ntshinogang confidently.

Premier League referees are owed over P400, 000 for the second round of last season’s games and have threatened to down tools if they are not paid by Friday.

1st Division North referees are also owed ‘second round’ money, with their committee working on acquiring the money from the league’s sponsor, Debswana.

According to an inside source, who preferred not to be named for fear of victimisation, the Botswana Football Association (BFA) has agreed to loan BPL the cash to pay referees allowance.

He said the fear is that if the money does not report in their account they are likely to boycott the games.

“Over the weekend BTC Charity Cup games started late because the referees wanted to be paid first. They were promised they would get the money after the match but refused to go on the field until Premier League management went to withdraw the money and pay up front.

“This is the same old story – at the beginning of every season they will be running around to find money for referees allowance,” claimed the source.

When contacted for a comment, Chairperson of the Referees Commission Eatametse Olopeng assured the referees they would receive their dues before the league begins.

He accused the BPL board of forgetting about referees when they negotiated their sponsorship with BTC.

Olopeng said in the future the sponsorship proposal should include referees allowance, attire and their transport.

As the league begin this weekend all eyes will be on the new comers BR Highlanders, Prisons and Notwane to see how prepared they are to play with the big boys.

BR will host Police at Serowe Sports Complex, Toronto will visit Security Systems in Molepolole while Prisons will lock horns with the league runners up Jwaneng Galaxy at Otse Police College.

The three-time defending champions, Township Rollers, who lost on 5-4 on penalties to Gaborone United in BTC Charity Cup final over the weekend, will play Black Forest in Molepolole on Wednesday due to their Champions League commitments.