PREMIER League management Committee (PLMC) chairperson John Leuta has admitted that the just ended 2017/18 Premier League season was the most challenging since he took over the running of the organisation in 2015.
Leuta, who is also Bantu chairperson, replaced Lioli president, Lebohang Thotanyana who he had previously deputised.
This season also saw Leuta’s Bantu trying to clear its name after it was found to have fielded irregularly registered players in their clash against Lioli in December 2017.
The Disputes and Protests Committee of the Lesotho Football Association in March this year, convicted A Matšo Matebele to of unlawfully registering four more than the five stipulated foreign players.
The said players were all found to be South Africans who had illegally acquired local identification documents. Thabo Selisa, Itumeleng Falene, Molaoa Pheko and Phumoha Matsipa were eventually deregistered while LeFA was tasked with investigating the matter further.
As a result, Lioli were awarded the three points and three goals from the match and Leuta concedes it was a difficult experience.
“It’s been one of most the challenging years in my six years as part of the PLMC but it has helped me grow together with my team,” Leuta said.
“Bantu has grown both as a team and brand. I think we realised that the fight was no longer about football and came in different ways.”
Despite the negatives, Leuta feels there were positives to be taken from the experiences though he feels the football fraternity should go back to the drawing board and stop fighting.
He said unity would be the only way that the country’s football can grow.
“Despite all that, it has been a good football year where supporters came in big numbers and our sponsors are happy with the product.
“The sponsors want us to improve our relationships and we will sit down to look at the short comings so that we can progress. We have noted all the problems that we had and we are committed to solve all of them,” he said.
Leuta it was critical for the PLMC to resolve its challenges so that the sponsorship that they get it put to good use.
“There is a lot of money being pumped into the sport and we have to ensure that its put to good use.”
Leuta also said there was a need for football administrators to understand the regulations of the game to avoid unnecessary conflicts.
“As the football administrators, we should ensure that we understand the rules and regulations that govern football in the country.
“We have to know the rules and regulations and we cannot continue to attack each other on social media platforms,” he said.
Leuta also said Bantu have accepted defeat in the player registration scandal and were moving on.
“We have to accept defeat and understand that we made a mistake.”
Despite the ups and downs, Leuta said he was grateful that companies such as Econet Telecom Lesotho, Lesotho National Insurance Group, Metropolitan Lesotho and Standard Lesotho Bank have remained supportive.
Econet are the sponsors of the Premier League while LNIG sponsors Top 8 and the Independence Top4 is bankrolled by the Standard Lesotho Bank and Metropolitan Lesotho.
“Our league sponsors, Econet, have been very supportive. We had a lot of meetings and trainings together as you remember they were announced just a week before the start of the season.
“There is a lot that they want to do to develop the game and the future looks bright if we work together as a fraternity. We have already laid a solid foundation signing a three years contract with them.
“This was not happening in the past but we have a three-year sponsorship with all our sponsors which will make everything stable for us. I think we were all supportive of each other and they played a key role in the improvement of the game.
“We are grateful for their support and I believe we can go far as long as we work together and learn from our mistakes,” Leuta said.
Leuta said they are also in negotiations with a company that intends to sponsor 10 Premier League teams that do not have any sponsorship currently with M60 000 each in the new season.
Although Leuta said it was premature to announce the name of the company, only Bantu, LCS and Lioli has sponsors.
“The organisation will avail M60 000 for each of the benefitting teams as well as a playing kit and balls. This is because they are aware such teams are struggling and they want to make life easy for them when the new season starts.
“This will also help our teams start the season well prepared and ready to compete in the field of play,” Leuta said.