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Botswana face broadcasting blackout

QUALFIED: Botswana players celebrate victory

THE BOTSWANA government have decided not to buy the broadcasting rights to screen the country’s first appearance at the African Cup of Nations.

The rights are held by French company, SportFive, and negotiations between them and the state-owned broadcaster Btv, which relies on the government for funding, broke down over the asking price of 15m Pula (£1.275m).

Government spokesman Dr Jeff Ramsay explained the situation to BBC Sport: “P15m minimum for us to have limited terrestrial rights has been judged to be too much. We are undergoing budgetary constraints right now: obviously we budget certain amounts and this hadn't been budgeted for.”

The government has instead decided on concentrate on preparing the team for the tournament and they are investing £756,000 in arranging friendlies and other incentives such as a ten-day training camp in South Africa and a visit to the Aspire Academy in Qatar at the end of December.

KEY PLAYER: Jerome Ramatlhakwane

Fans will still be able to follow the team’s progress by subscribing to satellite channels but many will miss out altogether on seeing the Zebra’s maiden appearance.

However, the government argued that this is a problem facing many of the African nations: “The ability of Btv and similar broadcasters across the continent to obtain rights to the tournament has been compromised by the crippling financial demands of SportFive.”

This is the second financial issue this month to hit the country’s preparations. Earlier in December, there was a fallout between the Botswana Football Association (BFA) and the national team over bonuses.

The players submitted a list of demands which included £8,404 for each of the 23-man squad, a £1,288 bonus per win in the group stage and almost £3,000 each should they qualify for the knockout stages.

Botswana’s first game is against favourites Ghana on January 24. The other two teams in Group D are Mali and Guinea.

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