Lesotho Times

Red card for Pitso

MASERU — The Premier League has all but banned Matlama from using Pitso Ground as their home for high-profile matches following last month’s violence at the bare-bone stadium.
Matlama’s home fixture against Bantu on March 13 will have to be played at a neutral venue.
Both teams, chasing the premiership title, command large followings.
Premier League chairman Tlholo Letete said moving the Matlama-Bantu game to another venue was a pre-emptive effort against potential crowd trouble.
The neutral venue is yet to be announced.
But the abandoned match between Matlama and Lioli will be replayed at the Bambatha Tšita Sports Arena on March 11.
Bambatha Tšita, like Pitso Ground, does not have a perimeter wall or proper security features.
It is most likely the former is considered safer because it is on the outskirts of the city, unlike the latter which is easily accessible by people as it is located in the vicinity of the capital’s main bus termini.
It is suspected the violence that forced the abandonment of the Matlama-Lioli match was sparked by hooligans who were throwing missiles from outside Pitso Ground.
“We will assess the situation, but we have said that Pitso Ground is not a suitable venue to host matches of that magnitude,” said Letete in reference to the Matlama-Bantu fixture.
“Until we are convinced otherwise we feel it is in the best interests of the supporters.”
Last week the Premier League, in another move to clamp down on crowd trouble, banned alcohol from matches.
However, because there are no security checks at almost all football venues in the country, spectators still brought beer to matches at the weekend.
Spectators could be seen imbibing the merry waters during the fixtures pitting Swallows against Lioli in Mazenod on Saturday and Bantu versus LDF in Mafeteng on Sunday.
Although Bantu’s home ground is one of the few venues in the country with a fence, there were no checks at the entrance and alcohol bottles could be seen strewn all over after the match.
Letete was however relieved the fixtures were incident-free and sees the situation improving.
“There is an improvement as both sets of fans were well behaved,” he said after watching LDF’s win over Bantu.
“We are still growing and we are learning lessons every week.”
Letete said it would help if all Premier League match venues had perimeter fencing like Mafeteng’s ground.
“It helps so that there is control of people entering the ground,” he said.
“We don’t want to see any bottles; we don’t want to see anything with alcohol.”

Lesotho Times

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