MASERU — The Battle of Lesotho pitting domestic football giants Lioli against Matlama last Saturday was preceded by an unlikely clash – between sponsors.
Premier League bankroller Vodacom Lesotho was not amused to find banners belonging to Alliance Insurance, which sponsors both Lioli and Matlama, already erected at “strategic places” at Bambatha Tsita Sports Arena before the big match.
Representatives of the mobile telephone service provider allegedly ordered the Alliance banners removed, accusing the insurance company of “ambush marketing”.
Alliance’s life department director Thabiso Madiba said the company was “embarrassed” by the removal of its advertising material.
Lesotho Football Association (Lefa) public relations officer Baba Malephane however tried to downplay the incident saying representatives of the two companies had reached an amicable agreement to remove the banners.
Malephane said Alliance or the sponsored teams had not consulted the Premier league first over the erection of the banners at the match venue.
“Those banners were not removed in a bad way because both companies discussed the issue and reached an agreement to remove them,” Malephane told the Lesotho Times this week.
“They should have consulted the Premier League first because the mother body (Lefa) has contractual obligations with the main sponsor (Vodacom).”
Malephane accused Alliance of ambush marketing.
“The banners were placed at the strategic places without consulting anyone and that in itself is ambush marketing,” he said.
Madiba, however, argued Alliance was still within its rights by putting up its banners.
“We are very much embarrassed by Vodacom’s actions to remove our banners during Lioli’s game,” Madiba said.
“We’ve got an agreement with Lioli and I still believe we were within our rights by putting those banners without consulting anybody.
“Our agreement is that at all Lioli games Alliance is allowed to brand without any limitations.”
Vodacom Lesotho marketing officer Tsotetsi Seema said Alliance should have left the “corners and places behind the goals” to the league’s main sponsor to avoid the clash.
“Vodacom does not restrict anybody from advertising during the games but there must be discussions ahead of the games,” Seema said.
“I was surprised when I arrived (at Bambatha) because it was like those people were the main sponsors because of their banners’ overpopulation at the ground.”
Malephane said the incident was a learning curve for Premier League teams with regards to sponsorship deals.
“We learn by making mistakes and I think Premier League teams have learnt to avoid reaching certain agreements without first consulting Lefa or the Premier League,” he said.
Madiba said they had asked the teams sponsored by Alliance to check with the football authorities how much mileage the insurance company could get during top-flight matches.
“We’ve asked the teams to go back to the Premier League to resolve the mileage given to companies sponsoring Premier League teams,” Madiba said.
“They’ll have to give us the mileage because we are injecting more money into the teams than the prizes they win at the end of the season.”