NPL in desperate hunt for sponsor

Namibia Premier League (NPL) Chairman Johnny Doeseb says 15 companies have been approached to sponsor the upcoming season, which faces an uncertain future after telecommunications giant MTC recently ended its 14-year relationship with the country’s topflight domestic league.
Doeseb, however, remained upbeat this week, telling the Windhoek Observer during an interview that he is hopeful of securing a sponsor that will allow the 2016/17 season to kick off.
The decision by the country’s biggest sport benefactor to pull out of football threatens the employment of the country’s 450 premier league footballers and others who earn a living from the NPL.
The company had in June given the NPL until 31 July to secure an additional sponsor, or risk losing N$15 million earmarked for the 2016/2017 season.
The deadline was later extended to August, but the league executives still failed to secure the additional sponsorship of N$9 million per annum, resulting in MTC’s withdrawal.
The new MTC three-year deal would have seen the NPL rake in a total of N$45 million over three years.
The previous three-year contract between MTC and the NPL expired in May this year.
The NPL had tabled a budget of N$24 million per season for the three-year period, which would have resulted in a N$9 million per season shortfall – a bill which MTC was not prepared to foot.
Doeseb said this week that they were waiting for feedback, after sending out funding proposals to 15 corporates.
“There are sponsors all over the country and we have sent proposals to them. We are just awaiting their feedback on what we have proposed,” he said.
“We selected those companies and are hoping to get some feedback and all we can do now is wait.”
The Walvis Bay-based businessman said the resumption of the league will be determined by the availability of funding, which now hangs in the balance.
In the meantime, all NPL clubs have been asked to continue with their training sessions, while the league hunts for sponsors.
“We don’t have a date now when the league will start, because that is determined by us finding N$24 million. There is no way we can start anything without money. We can’t start something with a deficit of N$24 million, what would be the point?” he said. The businessman-cum-football-administrator painted a gloomy picture, should the NPL fail in its overtures to the corporate world.
“Without the N$24 million there will be no football, that’s it,” he said.
Orlando Pirates and Black Africa’s sponsorship agreement with banking concern FNB Namibia also faces an uncertain future, if the league fails to kick off this season.
FNB has a sponsorship agreement with both NPL giants, which sees them receiving N$800,000 a year since 2014. The sponsorship deal is due to end next year.
Namibian football has battled to secure sponsorship, despite the popularity of the game, a position that has seen competitions and events being scrapped.
Last season the Namibia Football Association (NFA) failed to secure sponsorship to host the country’s biggest cup competition, and it appears that the same will happen in the new season, if the association fails to get a sponsor for its NFA Cup.
Football analysts and administrators have expressed mixed views on the future of football in the country, in the aftermath of MTC’s sponsorship withdrawal.
MTC has pumped over N$100 million into the NPL since 2002.