National Stadium closed until next year

The National Stadium will not be available for any official games until early next year; the stadium will be closed again for the turf’s rehabilitation to take place. The Botswana Challenge friendly between Mochudi Centre Chiefs and Kaizer Chiefs this weekend will be the last game held at the stadium this year.

Last month the stadium was briefly closed for a month to allow the turf to get to top shape. However, the 22 500-seater stadium was availed for the Mascom Top 8 quarterfinal first leg between Township Rollers and Mochudi Centre Chiefs.

This publication is reliably informed that the game was the last official domestic game to be held at the venue until next year. The information states that the Botswana National Sports Council (BNSC) informed the Botswana Premier League (BPL) that no league or cup fixtures would be allowed to take place at the stadium until the former grants the latter permission to do so next year.

As a result, eight fixtures will be forced to reschedule; six league games and two Mascom Top 8 quarterfinal second leg ties will be affected. The Rollers versus Uniao Flamengo Santos match(22 November), the Gaborone United versus Ecco City Greens (24 November) and the Mascom Top 8 return legs featuring Rollers, Chiefs, GU and Ecco will be the first casualties for November games.

December held league games such as the Chiefs and Ecco clash (7 December), GU versus Extension Gunners (15 December), Notwane against Gunners (18 December) and Rollers versus Ecco (21 December) will all be rescheduled after being initially billed to take place at the National Stadium.

Rescheduling of the fixtures will surely affect the clubs financially as they will miss out on collecting larger gate revenues from the games. Alternative venues such as the SSKB Stadium and the Molepolole Sports Complex have capacities of less than 10 000 and normally generate lower gate takings according to various league clubs.

GU, whose weekend game against Chiefs was supposed to take place at the National Stadium, is yet to play at the venue this season because of the rescheduling of four of their games. “This is going to affect us financially because we have lost out on the chance to capitalize on the crowd attracted by the stadium. Large numbers result in larger revenue. Games at smaller stadiums are not safe or comfortable and they generate less revenue. It is also costly for clubs and supporters to travel to Molepolole but we have no other choice,” said GU’s secretary general, Herbert Letsebe.

The stadium was reopened on August 31 for the international friendly between Zebras and Uganda after having been inactive for five years.