Premier league boss happy with season
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.