With a little near half of the games of the Vodacom Premier League (VPL) still yet to be played, majority of topflight league teams have spoken in unison for the premature halt of the league.
In a consultative meeting held at the Bambatha Tšita Sports Arena between the Premier League Management Committee (PLMC) and the clubs’ representatives, it was recommended that the 48% remainder of the league be foregone and preparations be installed for the new footballing season 2021/22.
“Of the 16 Premier League teams 14 were in attendance of the meeting, while two were unrepresented and what was discussed are the reasons on the possible way forward with our football,” said Qamako Mahao Spokesperson of the PLMC in an interview with Newsday Sport on Wednesday.
This publication has also learned that the two teams who did not attend the consultative meeting are Lesotho Mounted Police Services (LMPS) and CCX although it is unclear why they were not present.
The vote saw the majority – 11 inclusive of current log-leaders and the county’s most decorated team Matlama – vote for the abortion of the league, with only three including defending champions Bantu, voting against the move.
According to Mahao, the main reason for the suggested halt is the financial burden imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Amongst other things, the main reason for the majority vote was that there is financial loss that has been suffered by the teams to this point and that the ending of the league now will give us enough time to prepare for the upcoming season and aligned with the FIFA calendar.
“We will now align our league with the rest of the other leagues on the FIFA calendar which means we get to go back to being able to enroll a team in the CAF Champions League which we failed to do this year because our league was delayed,” Mahao said.
The league has so far played out 52% of the games, which means that most teams have played 17 games of the 32.
The league sponsorship deal between Vodacom Lesotho and the PLMC states that for the sponsors to release prize monies, at least 90% of games in a single season be played first. Mahao said the teams requested that the PLMC goes back to the sponsor to renegotiate based on their recommendation coupled with the current Covid-19 situation in the country.
When the 2020/21 season was suspended due to the rise in Covid-19 cases in April, log leaders Matlama had played 16 games and garnered 38 points, followed closely by Bantu with a game in-hand and a point behind. Lioli are in third place with 30 points after 18 encounters, while LCS sits in fourth place with 27 points out of 15 games while LDF, Lijabatho, Linare and Kick4Life are in fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth position respectively with 24 points apiece.
The bottom four of the table has Likhopo in 13 place with 15 points from 17 games with Lifofane following in 14th place with 18 games played and 13 points while Swallows has 10 points after 16 games and Sefothafotha is anchoring the league with six points after 17 games played.
Mahao said the PLMC will pass the recommendations onto the Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) as the football governing body for the final decision.
Mahao said in their recommendations to the National Executive Committee (NEC) they will have to make them aware of the challenge which comes with declaring winners which is that relegation has to also take place, as for the two teams that will be promoted to the elite league two will have to be relegated to the lower division.
“The NEC is the one that will make the decision of whether we declare a champion or not. However, just like last season whence a winner was declared prematurely, if we are to see a repeat of that situation, I would say there is a possibility that we could have 18 teams next season,” he said.