No takers for Sky Battalion

No takers for Sky Battalion

MASERU – On sale Vodacom Premier League outfit Sky Battalion are struggling to find a buyer after a deal with Galaxy fell through last week.
‘SK’ were the surprise package of the 2016/17 season and finished fifth in the league in what was a fairy-tale debut campaign in the top-flight.
However, according to the club’s secretary general, Samuel Phulane, Sky Battalion’s Chinese owner Hua Gao decided to sell the team’s premiership status after squabbles with executive members and coach Thabile Secker over wages.

Phulane said the commotion over unpaid salaries started in May after the side’s final league game against Lioli.
At the time Hao was out of the country and notified the club he would only return to Lesotho after the June 3 national elections.
The Chinese businessman claimed elections were usually a politically volatile period for foreigners; however, some club members were not prepared to wait.
Phulane said relations between Hao and his club executives and coaching staff quickly deteriorated to the point the owner decided to sell ‘SK’.

A-Division campaigners Galaxy were then lined up to buy Sky Battalion’s premier league status but the deal collapsed after Galaxy failed to pay the agreed amount by a deadline of July 10.
Phulane refused to disclose figures but said ‘SK’ are continuing to look for a buyer before the season starts.
The search is likely to increase in desperation.

Last month the premier league released the fixture list for the 2017/18 season and teams have already started pre-season training.
The new Vodacom Premier League season starts on August 26 while Sky Battalion are slated to begin their campaign on August 27 against Kick4Life.
“So far we have not yet found a buyer and we are continuing to look for a buyer. Either it could be a club buying our premier league status or an individual buying the club,” Phulane told thepost.
“We are still talking to other teams and we are willing to negotiate with anyone who could be interested.”

He added: “We put a deadline to Galaxy that by 10 July they should pay a certain amount and the remaining amount was to be paid later by instalments, but it didn’t happen instead we received a letter from them withdrawing as buyers,” he said.

Phulane said it is difficult to finance a premier league team and revealed clubs are yet to receive their annual grants from the league since the season ended in May.
Because of the financial woes Sky Battalion are facing, several key players were allowed to join other Vodacom premiership teams such as Kick4Life and Bantu.
Other players were allowed to go home while some are training with other clubs despite not having received their clearances from Sky Battalion.

“There was a disagreement between the coach, the players and the owner over wages,” Phulane said as he explained the current chaos at ‘SK’.
“It all started back on the 6th of May after our last (league) game with Lioli. Some members wanted their salaries at that time but the owner was not in the country; instead, he promised to pay them when he came back after the elections.”

He continued: “I think people were impatient, they couldn’t wait, and then the disagreements over wages started. The owner decided to sell the club and allow players to join other teams. We negotiated with some teams like Kick4Life and you will realise they signed three players from us.”

Earlier this month Kick4Life unveiled the signings of striker Bonang Mohapi, talented attacking midfielder Tšepang Ntsenyane and goalkeeper Rorisang Moabi from ‘SK’.
Phulane said despite being on the lookout for a buyer, the club is yet to officially write to the premier league with its intention to sell.
To compound Sky Battalion’s woes further, Phulane said the club’s equipment has also been seized by people saying they are owed money by Sky Battalion.
The equipment includes items such as the club’s stamp and players cards.

“Earlier this year the coach was let go and he was free to join any other team after writing to the management that he cannot continue working without pay but he took the cards even though he had been promised that he will get his money,” Phulane said.

Phulane said Sky Battalion was founded to help Basotho display their football talent and he expressed dismay at the current state of affairs.
If Sky Battalion fail to find a buyer and do not register by the time the 2017/18 Vodacom Premier League season starts, they could be forced to coordinate with the A-Division Management (ADMACO) and have a promotional playoff with the runners-up from the first division to determine who will take their place in the elite league.

Luciah Phahla

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