Sierra Leone football league on hold after financing blow By KEMO CHAM in Freetown | Friday, May 11 2012 at 16:24
The withdrawal of sponsorship by its biggest financier has forced the postponement of Sierra Leone`s top football league.
The board of the Sierra Leone Premier League announced the "indefinite" suspension citing lack of funding.
The league, which is getting into its second round, was scheduled to start May 12.
Mercury International, the country`s leading sports betting game, said it was not offered convincing justification to sponsor the tournament.
Chairman Samir Hassanyeh told journalists in Freetown that the company had decided to spend its money on long term projects “we can actually see development for the country and in which we can see the sponsorship being put to good use.”
The west Africa country was this week placed above Nigeria in the latest Fifa rankings.
The Sierra league, currently in debt of over 80 Million Leones (about $20,000) accrued as part of funding for the first round of the tournament, has been at the centre of on-going wrangles involving the ministry of Sports and the leadership of the Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA).
A hopeful for the presidency of the SLFA, Rodney Michael, recently resigned following a fallout within the football leadership.
Mr Michael`s ties with Mercury International had stoked fears that his unceremonious departure could sever the financial relationship.
But Mercury International's Hassanyeh insisted that the decision was solely his and not anyone else`s.
He hinted the choice of brand name of the league, representation at the board of the premier league as well as the proper management of sponsorship funds had informed his decision.
"But the most significant issue was that the board never did a proper presentation to us on why we should continue on our sponsorship…," he said.
The concern among sports analysts here now is how will the country gets it representations at international level, such as next year`s CAF continental.
Officials at the Sierra Leone Premier League Board are reported to be counting on President Ernest Bai Koroma to rescue the tournament.
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