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Likhopo in financial crisis

by Lesotho Times
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MASERU — Former Premier League champions Likhopo are facing a serious financial crisis that could force the side to fold.

Likhopo owner Bishop Molatoli, who doubles up as the club’s coach, recently revealed he was facing challenges keeping the team in the top-flight league.

Molatoli’s admission had seen speculation swelling that Likhopo could be up for sale.

This week Molatoli however poured cold water on the speculation, insisting that he would fight to keep the club afloat.

Molatoli said instead he was selling Likhopo’s development team, Little Flowers, which is in the first division.

“We are thinking about selling Little Flowers,” he said. “But I’m definitely not selling Likhopo.”

Molatoli said he could not afford to keep two teams without a sponsor.

“If we get a sponsor then we would continue with Little Flower but we are bankrupt,” he admitted.

“We can’t have two teams. It’s impossible. We can’t afford it.”

Molatoli said there were suitors who had approached him for Little Flowers and their first division franchise.

Little Flower is valued at about M150 000, but Molatoli would not say his asking price.

“There are already people who have shown interest in buying, Thaba-Tseka and Monoanyane,” he said.

“(But) we are in negotiation and the sums cannot be disclosed. But what I can say is that it’s first come first served.”

Little Flowers finished eighth in the just-ended A Division season.

The development side has been in existence since 2004 and enjoyed successive promotion from the C and B divisions.

If the team is sold, some players may be left stranded.

Molatoli said a number of Little Flower players would be promoted to Likhopo’s ranks.

“We are going to promote some of the players and then we will see what we do with the rest of them,” he said.

Molatoli regretted that the financial crisis he is facing has forced him to offload his development team.

“We wouldn’t want to sell the team because it provided a good development platform for Likhopo, but we have no option,” he said.

“We have no money.”

Likhopo, seventh in the Premier League, won back-to-back titles in 2004/05 and 2005/06.

The side has produced many notable players and when Likuena played Botswana last month five players were products of the club.

Likhopo, like the majority of the 16-team Premier League teams and all lower division sides, have no sponsorship.

The clubs are run on shoe-string budgets, mostly funded by individuals and well-wishers.

Domestic football is played at amateur level and players are not paid.

A Premier League side needs close to M100 000 to cover transport and food costs a season.

Yet last year the winners of the national championship, sponsored by telecommunications company Econet-Telecom, were given M27 500 for their efforts.

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