NAMIBIA Football Association president Frans Mbidi on Monday warned top flight clubs against boycotting the Debmarine Namibia Cup, saying such a move will have severe ramifications.
An overwhelming majority of Namibia Premier League (NPL) clubs have reportedly moved to forego their spots in the last-32 of the rebranded FA Cup, citing a lack of sufficient preparation time.
Holders Tigers are adamant they will not honour their fixture against Omaheke second division side Eastern Chiefs on 23 April.
“They [NFA] can do what they want. We are not playing in the Debmarine Cup. We have the support of our supporters. Our reasons are clear as to why we will not partake, and the NFA chose not to consider them,” Tigers spokesperson Hafeni Hiveluah told The Namibian Sport on Monday.
He added that most of the clubs support the resolution taken at Saturday's NPL board of governors (BoG) consultative meeting to withdraw from the competition.
NPL interim management committee head Franco Cosmos confirmed the decision to snub the FA Cup. He told New Era Sports that the "clubs are not ready to compete", and that their request for a postponement until after the league kicks off "fell on deaf ears", which left them no other alternative but to "pull out of the competition".
Consequently, the renegade clubs should expect unspecified sanctions from the NFA, Mbidi said in response.
“I don't think the NPL will boycott the competition, but we are not begging anyone. We informed the NPL that the best thing is to take part in the competition. The consequences are dire for those who choose not to. It will not augur well for future endeavours,” Mbidi warned.
“Every NFA member knows the rules and regulations, and the sanctions that can come as a result of non-participation in NFA competitions. We will apply the rules without favour,” the NFA chief continued.
The Debmarine Namibia Cup started on 10 February with over 200 clubs at regional level, with the preliminaries ending on 26 February.
The NPL clubs claim they could not afford to keep players on their books until the last-32 fixtures take place.
The round of 32 is expected to conclude on 30 April, which is just under two weeks before the premier league kicks off its 2016-17 season.
Additionally, the NPL clubs, many of whom only began with pre-season training this week, shelved preparations until they were certain that the country's premier division would kick off, which at the moment is “tentatively” set for 12 May.
The absence of a substantive sponsor has rendered the start of the latest premier league season uncertain for nearly a year.
However, a number of sponsors have provisionally indicated a willingness to come to the assistance of local top flight football, hence the new kick off date.
Mbidi maintained that the NPL clubs had sufficient time to get ready for action, and that their stance will do little to enhance the tainted image of football amongst sponsors. There is no room for any postponements, he said.
“They were given ample time to prepare. This competition was launched last year. The other clubs from the lower divisions managed to be ready on time, so why can't they? Everybody should have prepared for the start of the leagues in February already,” stressed Mbidi.
“The calendar is now very tight. There are other activities that also require attention, and our sponsors also have set engagements scheduled for the year.
“We cannot postpone the competition. It is impossible to postpone. It was done already to accommodate them [NPL clubs]. This time, it cannot happen,” Mbidi stated.
- Title: Dire consequences for FA Cup snub - Mbidi
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- Date: 2:58 PM