The race for the sponsorship of the top flight soccer league is on and still very open to fall either way with telecommunications giants and bitter rivals Econet Telecom Lesotho (ETL) and Vodacom Lesotho (VCL) running neck-and-neck for financing the beautiful game come the beginning of the 2020/21 season.
According to sources privy to the matter, ETL, who were sponsors of the just-ended run, are keen on renewing their just-ended three-year deal for sponsorship and have shown interest to increase the sponsorship prize money with the PLMC.
The company and premier league governing body have been in a three-year multi-million maloti deal since 2017 as the main sponsor of the elite league. In the three-year contract, each year was sponsored with M2 million where champions would take home M500 000. The contract ended last season and there has since been talk of an extension.
“The two have been in closed meetings for some time now and Econet is willing to increase their sponsorship package to at least M3 million per season,” sources said.
Econet were no strangers to sponsoring the league as they did so from 2002 to 2009 when their rival Vodacom Lesotho took over.
Meanwhile, this publication has also learned that prior to ETL wanting to review its sponsorship for the favourite game, rivals Vodacom Lesotho (VCL) had come forward with a M3 million sponsorship proposal for the new 2020/21 season although it was not clear for how long they propose to sponsor it.
Vodacom has also had fair share of sponsoring the premier league from 2010 to 2016 when Econet took over.
The PLMC Public Relations Officer Qamako Mahao earlier this week confirmed to this paper that they have been in negations with a number of potential sponsors including the two telecommunications giants. However, he was very reluctant to divulging details of those talks.
“I am not at liberty to reveal any information to the issue of sponsorship right now as negotiations are currently on-going. The past executive committee had a proposal with a number of potential sponsors at this point we are merely following up where they left off.
“Yes, the two companies (Econet and Vodacom) are part of the potential sponsors and we had talks with them. Econet has been our sponsors and have always shown interest to renew even before the contract came to an end. And we have been in talks with them as well as Vodacom amongst others too,” Mahao said.
Mahao strictly refused to comment further on whether we may see the sponsorship figure increases saying he does not want to get into details about figures when there is no final deal on the table yet.
He said the PLMC is looking to have as many companies on board as possible looking at how tough things are potentially going to be for a number of teams in the premier league next season as a result, inter alia of the Covid-19 outbreak.
“We need a lot of companies to come forward because we anticipate a number of financial challenges going into the upcoming season and also we have other domestic cups that will need financial backing. The companies we are engaging in talks with are not just about the league sponsorship but also the domestic cups that we have in the league,” Mahao said.
He also mentioned that they are looking into doing away with the exclusivity clause in the league sponsorship that he says has been hindering other companies from coming on board to sponsor the top flight league.
Meanwhile, contacted for a comment, Tšepo Khabisi Executive Head of Consumer Business at Vodacom denied commenting on the matter.
“When and if there is anything, I believe the two parties (Vodacom and PLMC) will make an official statement,” Khabisi commented.
On the other hand, Public Relations Officer of Econet Puleng Masoabi could not be reached for a comment until the time of going to print last night.
Meanwhile the premier league teams eventually received their prize monies last Friday for last season’s campaign after a delay in the back of a 2019/20 season that was interrupted by the Corona Virus outbreak in March this year.
The champions Bantu walked home with M500 000 while the first and second runners up bagged M200 000 and M120 000 respectively. The fourth placed team took home M100 000, with fifth position team walking away with M75 000, number six and seven bagged M70 000 and M65 000 respectively while the eighth placed took M60 000. Ninth place team received M55 000 while number 10 pocketed M50 000. From number 11 to 14 the teams received M45 000, M40 000, M35 000 and M30 000 in that order.