MASERU –– The start of the new Buddie Premier League season has been postponed.
The 2009/10 season was scheduled to start this Saturday. However, organisers are still to come up with the full quota of clubs registered for the top-flight league.
Lesotho’s elite league is contested by 16 clubs. However, with a week to go before the league kicks off, only half of the league’s clubs had been registered.
The shock news of the league’s postponement was confirmed by Premier League chairman Tlholo Letete yesterday.
“We can’t start the league because our teams have not registered,” Letete told the Lesotho Times.
“We are going to meet the teams next week Sunday. We hope by then they will all have registered and we will be able to give them a fixture list for the coming season,” he said.
The development is a huge setback for Lesotho’s top-flight which, as part of efforts to professionalise the local game, is due to embark on a ground-breaking season including the relegation of four teams.
“The thing that may have confused our teams is that in the past registration of clubs has been done parallel to the registration of players which has a deadline of August 31,” Letete said.
Letete also said this would not happen next season.
“The cause of this situation may be because of loopholes in our regulations, (but) we have amended the rules. From next year the Premier League and LEFA will issue a registration form that will have to be filled out by clubs and submitted by July 15 in order for the clubs to participate in next season,” Letete said.
Premier League clubs had apparently delayed their registration because of hold-ups in the allocation of their 2008/09 prize-money from the league and its sponsors Econet/Telecom. However those payments were made three weeks ago.
No clear reason has been given for the delay of Lesotho’s top-flight teams in registering.
Despite the obvious setback, Letete said the clubs would not face any punishment.
“Not at the moment, it’s just that there is a serious inconvenience,” Letete said.
“It’s a big setback because we had done a calculation of what we were going to do next season.
“Remember the other side there is the 2010 (World Cup) coming up so we have to make sure that by May the league is completed,” Letete said.
The postponement of the league season also means checks of clubs’ facilities will also be delayed.
“At the moment it is impossible to do an inspection of club facilities,” Letete said.
“Everything else was going as planned. You will recall that teams signed the Mohale Declaration last year and many of its statutes were already in place for the coming season.”