Virus may knock out football clubs

Virus may knock out football clubs

MASERU-The outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) has had a severe financial impact on local football clubs and they could struggle to pay players if the situation doesn’t change.
Football has been suspended worldwide in an effort to combat the spread of the virus that has brought the whole world to a standstill.
CPOVID-19 has affected the global economy and football clubs have been hit hard.

In a small country like Lesotho where every cent counts things are even worse. There is little money in local football but clubs say the little they get goes a long way.
Generally sponsorship in Lesotho is sponsorship in name only.

In reality, the money the clubs get from companies is not enough to cover their expenses though teams say it is better than nothing.
But, what about those clubs that do not have sponsorship?
Letšolo Maliehe, the general manager of Econet Premier League debutants Lifofane, admitted the club will not have the financial muscle to continue to pay its players if the league season continues to be shelved.

The idea of playing behind closed doors, with no income from match-day sales, will not help their cause either.
Lifofane, who were promoted last year, have been punching well above their weight in their maiden top-flight campaign.
The Butha-Buthe side are sixth in the Econet Premier League, just four points from an improbable top four spot, but the sudden suspension of the league has turned their fairy-tale season on its head.

Match-day revenue is one of the main sources of income for Lifofane.
Maliehe said depending on which team is visiting Butha-Buthe the club receives a healthy windfall which allows them to keep up with expenses such as paying players.
With football suspended it means Lifofane cannot host games and Maliehe said clubs are losing on average of about M20 000 of revenue per game.
Lifofane have sent their players home on full pay but Maliehe said they need the league season to restart if the club is going to be able to continue to operate because they do not have any sponsors.
Two weeks ago Lifofane added a milestone to their storybook top-flight debut when they won the MGC Top 4 tournament, beating giants Matlama in the final.
However, Lifofane are yet to receive their prize money. They were due to collect R195 000 for winning the tournament.

“The suspension of football has hit us hard, I mean we are not playing football at all, even socially the fans cannot watch matches,” Maliehe said.
“We are a new team in the Premier League but we pay our players from our pockets, we don’t have sponsors,” he added.
“We won the MGC (Top 4) but even that money we still haven’t received it, so it is hard. We sent players home on full pay but we will struggle to pay salaries if this continues,” Maliehe said.
“Even the teams that have sponsorships, I think they will struggle because the companies are struggling as well and they sponsor a team because of football. But there is no football now, why would (companies) pay?”

The Premier League Management Committee (PLMC) and Lesotho Football Association (LEFA) are expected to provide a way forward this week and confirm whether football will be back on April 4 as they had previously announced.
That seems unlikely.

Although there is still no confirmed case of COVID-19 in Lesotho, the growing numbers of the infection in neighbouring South Africa have forced the Lesotho government to enforce a ban on gatherings, close schools and encourage social distancing.

The players meanwhile have been sent home with instructions to keep training on their own to stay fit, but it is difficult for clubs to monitor.
Maliehe said he wishes clubs had support from the government because they have taken youths from the streets and placed them in a positive environment where they all share their passion for football.

Tlalane Phahla

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