New twist to league saga

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MASERU — Confusion still reigns over the identity of the sponsor of Lesotho’s Premier League.

Vodacom Lesotho has over the past month been widely tipped to become the league’s new official backer, replacing their telecommunications rivals Econet-Telecom Lesotho who have sponsored all the country’s leagues until this season.

In a development that lends credence to the rumours, a league table document obtained by the Lesotho Times this week, dated September 28, is titled Vodacom Premier League.

The log standings sheet, which is signed off by the Premier League Management Committee’s (PLMC) secretary Theko Letsie, even bears Vodacom’s logo.

But in a surprising twist, Vodacom vehemently denied sponsoring the elite league and said they have no knowledge of the use of the company’s name and logo.

“We have never said that we are going to sponsor the league,” Vodacom spokesperson Thabiso Mlungwane, who also oversees the company’s sponsorships and promotions, said yesterday.

“We sponsored the (Vodacom) Spectacular only. The league sponsor is known, if they are not sponsoring the league anymore then the league has no sponsor. As far as we are concerned we do not know anything about sponsoring the league,” he told the Lesotho Times yesterday.

Asked about the use of Vodacom’s logo on the log table Mlungwane said: “I don’t know, ask the person you got the document from. The media are always the first people to know (if any deal has been done).”

Vodacom’s head of commercial Tšabiso Letsoela has been out of the country since Monday and unavailable for comment.

But in any case the Premier League table is the clearest sign yet that LEFA has decided to ditch Econet-Telecom.

Econet had, through its Buddie product, been sponsoring the Premier League and lower division football since 2002 and last year pumped M750 000 into the sponsorship.

This year though the Premier League started without a brand sponsor after LEFA declined to renew the Premier League contract with Econet-Telecom.

Econet-Telecom who had stated their intention to continue as the main sponsor will only sponsor this year’s Buddie Top 4.

After launching their three-year M3 million Vodacom Soccer Spectacular last month, Vodacom had been believed to have gone a step further by backing all the country’s leagues.

A memo to all the country’s leagues with is also on LEFA’s notice board at their Bambatha headquarters proclaims Vodacom as Lesotho football’s new official sponsor.

“You are hereby informed that henceforth the Lesotho Football Association’s leagues will be sponsored by Vodacom Lesotho Ptd. Hopefully this will bring to rest the uncertainty that you would have had over the past month or so,” the LEFA statement read.

Vodacom advertising has also been highly visible at Premier League fixtures this season.

Nonetheless Vodacom officials are adamant no deal with the league has been done yet.

With the Lesotho Times having been banned by LEFA this week it has been impossible to get comment from LEFA officials.

Econet-Telecom was supposed to issue a joint statement with LEFA this week to clear the air, but this is yet to happen.

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