Lady Luck again turned her back on the beleaguered Namibia Premier League (NPL), after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) yesterday rejected the league’s application for legal aid in their protracted legal battle against its mother body the Namibia Football Association (NFA).
Delphine Deschenaux-Rochat, a legal counsel at CAS, yesterday wrote to NPL lawyers Dr Weder Kauta & Hoveka Inc informing them of their decision not to grant the suspended league legal aid, as the NPL does not meet the required criteria to be granted such legal assistance.
In its letter, CAS explained that: “I refer to the application for legal aid filed by the Appellant on 11 May 2020. On behalf of the CAS Legal Aid Commission, the Appellant is advised that, pursuant to Article 5 of the Guidelines on Legal Aid before the Court of Arbitration for Sport, legal aid is granted, based on a reasoned request and accompanied by supporting documents, to any natural person provided that his income and assets are not sufficient to allow him to cover the costs of proceedings, without drawing on that part of his assets necessary to support him and his family.”
CAS further explained: “The Appellant being a league, i.e. a legal entity, it is therefore not entitled to apply for and receive legal aid. Consequently, the Appellant’s request for legal aid shall not be considered by the CAS Legal Aid Commission. In view of the above, the suspension of the Appellant’s deadline (which is today) to pay the advance of costs is lifted with immediate effect.”
With CAS shunning the NPL’s request, it essentially means the league now has two options left at their disposal if it still wants its case to be heard by CAS; that is to either pay the entire advance of cost of CHF40 000 Swiss francs (which is almost N$800 000) or otherwise they have another option to submit their case to a sole arbitrator instead of a three-member panel of arbitrators, which might turn out to be more cheaper.
It now remains to be seem if the NPL will move ahead and pay the entire advance of cost of nearly N$800 000 or opt to go with an option of a sole arbitrator, which in many sport cases have historically proven to be a disastrous option as opposed to a three-member panel of arbitrators.
Yesterday’s snub by CAS follows two failed attempts by the league to have their suspension overturned by the Windhoek High Court and the Supreme Court, but both courts refused to hear the matter as they cited lack of jurisdiction and advised the league takes its protest to a court of sport, in this instance CAS.
Meanwhile this week, five NPL clubs, namely Tigers, Blue Waters, Citizens, Mighty Gunners, and Julinho Sporting all petitioned the NFA to inform the local football federation of their intention to resign from the NPL and form an elite breakaway league which will be affiliated to the NFA.
The five league clubs were joined by relegated Orlando Pirates, Young African and Civics in writing the letter to the NFA. The trio of Pirates, Young African and Civics were relegated last season from NPL but a directive by NFA ordered that the NPL must reinstate all three relegated clubs on a once-off basis because of the unique situation currently faced by Namibian football, where no First or Second Division leagues are active.