League could  be called off

League could be called off

MASERU-The 2020/21 Vodacom Premier League season will be called off if it does not restart by May 15, the Lesotho Football Association (LEFA) has said.
The league campaign has been on hold since early January when sports were banned by the government because of a rise in Covid-19 cases in the country.

At the time most premiership teams had only played four of their allotted 26 games and there has been no progress towards the league resuming despite the government lifting the ban on sports in February.
With a restart deadline now basically set for mid-May, the league faces a tight squeeze if the 2020/21 campaign is to be finished.
Speaking to thepost this week, LEFA secretary-general Mokhosi Mohapi said the governing body is engaging with the elite league’s 16 clubs to find a way forward.

A decision will have to be made quickly because teams would need at least three weeks to prepare, and it is already towards the end of April.
In addition, more than half of the season’s matches still have to be played meaning the league will be trying to squeeze a five-month schedule into a two-month period at most.

Mohapi said if there is no progress soon the season will have to be shelved.
“I will say this, as secretary general (of LEFA) there will come a point I will say, ‘OK time to restart is impossible.’ If the league is not playing by May 15 we (will) call it off and we (will) start preparations for the new season,” Mohapi said.

In June the regional COSAFA Cup is set to be played as well so the league will definitely have to be concluded by then.
What complicates matters further is the worrying fact that most teams are unprepared for a return to competition.

Mohapi revealed that only five of the Premier League’s 16 clubs have returned the declaration forms they were given by LEFA last month. The forms were meant to be submitted to LEFA with the required documentation in order for clubs to be given the green-light to return to training.
The tardiness extends beyond the top-flight.

Only four of 20 A-Division teams and only two of the 10 Women’s Super League teams have submitted the forms to LEFA.
Mohapi said the message is loud and clear, but due process will be followed.
It is a message Mohapi relayed to the 16 Vodacom Premier League club chairmen two weeks ago when they held a chairman’s forum to discuss the season’s possible restart.
“I explained myself in the chairman’s forum, they were all there,” Mohapi said.

“I asked them to prove they are ready to start in terms of the requirements set to them, and they failed. They said I should get NACOSEC’s (National COVID-19 Secretariat) position and I did, but what are they coming with?” he added.
It means that, as things stand, everything points to the season being cancelled and, if it does, no prize money would be issued and it is unlikely a champion would be crowned.

Defending champions Bantu and Matlama currently lead the standings with 12 points from four games and ‘A Matšo Matebele’ are first on goal difference.
In the event the season is cancelled a decision would then have to be made on which club will represent Lesotho in the CAF Champions League next season or if the country will have a representative at all.
Whatever is decided, Mohapi said the governing body will not make a decision without engaging clubs.

Amongst other reasons, LEFA wants to avoid a repeat of the court cases Matlama filed last year after LEFA’s National Executive Committee (NEC) ended the 2019/20 season and declared Bantu champions.
Matlama challenged the decision even though teams were consulted prior to the announcement, and they never won any of the cases they filed.
Mohapi said by talking to teams LEFA is denying them a chance to turn around and claim ignorance.

Mohapi said the clubs are dragging their feet on purpose as a tactic to frustrate the NEC, but the NEC has nothing to lose.
“If we make the decision without engaging them they will call us draconian which is something we are not,” Mohapi said.
“We want to engage them,” he added.

“We have learned that without engaging them they have a tendency to want fame on Facebook, like Matlama did, and say they were never engaged. So, by engaging them to that extent, we are denying them a chance to say they weren’t (consulted).”

Tlalane Phahla

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