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MBABANE – E1.2 million gone in five months. This is the story of Mbabane Highlanders and Manzini Wanderers’ annual package from their three-year sponsorship deal with Swazi Mobile.

The newly-incepted mobile network company announced a ground-breaking deal with the two football giants of the country in August, but the sponsorship was formally launched in September at the Royal Swazi Convention Centre.

The agreement was that the teams would receive E640 000 each per year from the company. The amount totals E1, 280 000.00 for both clubs. Each team was entitled to E80 000 monthly since August last year when the season started.

The E80 000 instalments were for administration purposes, according to the sponsor which forked out E10.5m for three years including to First Division League sides, Tinyosi and Madlenya.

The instalments had to run for eight months per club. The First Division sides got E50 000 apiece and also get it through instalments of slightly over E6 000 monthly and are on course to spend it until end of the season. The First Division teams were lauded as no trouble at all as they take what they get monthly, without asking for more.

“Problem is with the two big teams, Highlanders and Wanderers, who have finished all their season grants as they would make request for release of the money even before the time came and would request for huge sums from E120 000 to E200 000, claiming they were buying players,” a source confided as the reporter tried to establish how much of this season’s sponsorship had been used already by the four clubs.

Investigations revealed that both top clubs received their last instalments in December and used it to pay players’ salaries.
They were now trying to get more for the players’ January salaries as they use it for that. However, their efforts, at the time of going to press, were falling on deaf ears as per the sponsorship’s contract.

Swazi Mobile’s Corporate Communications Manager MacFord Sibandze was questioned about the issue and the claim that the two clubs were also now trying to negotiate for the release of next season’s package but so far in vain.

“What we can say is that Swazi Mobile’s contract with the four teams continues to run for three years. Because they’re our partners, if there are challenges we’ll always sit down and engage them but our contract for three years goes on,” he said.

He said when you are partners, it means there are relations, which is why they would be open to meeting the affected clubs but as is, nothing has changed in the sponsorship contract. Highlanders CEO Celucolo ‘Dino’ Dlamini said his Management Committee (MC) was sanctioned to a meeting with the Board of Directors Chairman Zweli Jele.

“I wouldn’t know about the Swazi Mobile expenditure but the chairman has called us to a meeting which is where we could get a briefing otherwise I don’t know what it’s about,” he said.

Dlamini would not say if the players had been paid or not but according to a few who were asked if they received January salaries, they responded to the negative by close of business yesterday.
Hub giants Wanderers CEO Pat Mahlalela said he had not checked on the sponsorship progress with regard to how far it had gone since August.

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