Premier league boss happy with sea­son

Lesotho Times - - Sport -

BUSI­NESS­MAN John Leuta has just com­pleted his first sea­son as premier league chair­per­son. Mr Leuta, who is also Bantu Foot­ball Club pres­i­dent, speaks with Le­sotho Times (LT) reporter, Mikia Kalati, about his ten­ure and what the fu­ture holds for the elite league.

LT: It’s that time of the year when the foot­ball fra­ter­nity be­gins to ask ques­tions about the spon­sor­ship of the league for the forth­com­ing sea­son. What is the sit­u­a­tion re­gard­ing Vo­da­com’s part­ner­ship with the league now that the com­pany’s one-sea­son spon­sor­ship ex­ten­sion came to an end af­ter the 2015/16 cam­paign?

Leuta: in prin­ci­ple, Vo­da­com has agreed to con­tinue spon­sor­ing the league but this time, it’s go­ing to be long-term un­like the last two sea­sons where we were given one-year deals.

What is now left is for the two par­ties to work on the finer de­tails of the con­tract be­fore put­ting pen to pa­per. Although i am not yet in a po­si­tion to re­veal the fig­ures, what i can only say is monies for end-ofyear in­di­vid­ual awards as well as al­lowances for match of­fi­cials will be in­creased.

LT: What do you make of your first sea­son in charge of the premier league?

Leuta: All in all, i think it has been an in­ter­est­ing cam­paign which was com­pet­i­tive all the way. i am very proud of what i have seen.

The bat­tle for the ti­tle went on un­til the very last day of the sea­son. The fight against rel­e­ga­tion also con­tin­ued un­til the last match of the sea­son. There was also fierce com­pe­ti­tion for top-four and topeight places which made the sea­son very ex­cit­ing.

We also went to Botswana to learn a few things be­cause their league has seen a lot of growth in re­cent years. i have al­ready sub­mit­ted our re­port to the Le­sotho Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion ( LEFA) na­tional Ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee with rec­om­men­da­tions we feel can help us de­velop as a league.

Those rec­om­men­da­tions in­clude hav­ing a premier league chair­man as part of the LEFA ex­ec­u­tive in order to timeously ad­dress some of the prob­lems we en­counter within our pro­grammes.

We also rec­om­mended to have a Board of Gov­er­nors made up of rep­re­sen­ta­tives from all premier­ship teams that will help the com­mit­tee run the league.

The last one is to have the A Di­vi­sion ad­min­is­tered by the same com­mit­tee that runs the premier league. This is meant to give it the lift it needs to get spon­sors.

LT: What about the league’s other spon­sors? Are they happy with the league and will­ing to in­crease their spon­sor­ship as a way of tak­ing the game to an­other level?

Leuta: They are all happy and have pledged to im­prove their spon­sor­ship. But the big­gest con­cern has been the state of our grounds as well as level of of­fi­ci­at­ing.

So we will try and find ways to ac­com­mo­date their con­cerns and sit down with those in charge of the match of­fi­cials. Again, we in­tro­duced a num­ber of things we thought could help us in mar­ket­ing our spon­sors’ prod­ucts even bet­ter.

This is why we are even us­ing mod­els es­pe­cially dur­ing tro­phy and medal pre­sen­ta­tions for our com­pe­ti­tions.

So go­ing for­ward, we will try and take the game to the peo­ple, which is why next sea­son, we want to stage dou­ble-head­ers in ar­eas with good sta­di­ums such as Mafeteng and Ma­put­soe.

LT: What about the clubs them­selves? What are you do­ing to as­sist them es­pe­cially those that do not have spon­sors and strug­gle to run their af­fairs due to lack of funds?

Leuta: This is my big­gest con­cern. The way our clubs mar­ket their prod­ucts to com­pa­nies is re­ally a worry to me.

it is a big chal­lenge and some­thing that needs proper training for those who do the day-to-day ad­min­is­tra­tion of the clubs and are tasked with sourc­ing fund­ing for their teams.

My con­cern is their pro­pos­als ad­dress the needs of their teams and leave out what the spon­sors want out of such part­ner­ships. This is why com­pa­nies have been re­luc­tant to in­vest in foot­ball.

i think a bit of ed­u­ca­tion could help. That is why we have con­sulted Vo­da­com to come on board and have things like work­shops for club of­fi­cials to train them on such is­sues.

But again, it is im­por­tant to know how much our league is worth so that we do bet­ter pre­sen­ta­tions when talk­ing to spon­sors. And for this, we need ad­vice from ex­perts.

But there are a lot of ex­cit­ing things in the pipe­line like hav­ing man-of-the-match awards af­ter all our games, as well as hav­ing at least one match broad­cast on Le­sotho Tele­vi­sion ev­ery week. i can also tell you there is a very high pos­si­bil­ity that we will have an­other cup com­pe­ti­tion next sea­son.

Our plan, as a league, is to have four of five com­pe­ti­tions as we al­ready have two, namely the Top4 and Top8, in ad­di­tion to the league cham­pi­onship.

LEFA Pres­i­dent Sale­mane Phafane (bot­tom left) and premier league chair­per­son Leuta Leuta (bot­tom right) present the premier league tro­phy to Li­oli on May 14 at Set­soto Sta­dium.

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