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GRTS demands over D800K refund from GFF

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By Omar Bah

National broadcaster GRTS is demanding over D800,000 refund from the Gambia Football Federation to cover the cost it incurred ‘providing live converge’ of the Gambia’s Afcon qualifier against South Sudan in Thies, Senegal on the 4th June, 2022.

In a letter addressed to GFF signed by outgoing director general Malick Jeng and copied to ministry of sports and other authorities, GRTS alleged that it was made to believe by GFF that by signing a contract document indicating their ability to provide live coverage of the match, the Confederation of African Football Caf would pay them for the services.

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According to GRTS, after deploying staff and equipment to Thies and incurring huge expenses, they were shocked to learn from a meeting with GFF that what they actually signed was to indicate their inability to cover the match and therefore they should not expect payment. GRTS said the issue has brought a misunderstanding between its management and board and urged the GFF to consider refunding the cost they incur, to resolve the matter once and for all.

The full text of the GRTS letter to GFF reads: “You will recall that on the 19 January 2023, a senior management team from the Gambia Radio and Television Services (GRTS) led by myself as director general visited your office to meet with a team of senior officials from the Gambia Football Federation GFF to discuss the subject matter of this letter. You will recall that as part of preparations for this important match, GRTS received a proposal for a contract to serve as the Host Broadcaster of Gambian home matches while GFF was designated as the Host Federation. Under the terms of the contract, GRTS was required to indicate its ability, or otherwise, to provide live coverage of the match. Having indicated our desire and interion to provide such coverage as clearly stated in writing on the contract document, the GRTS management proceeded to make arrangements for the task. We deployed Outside Broadcast (OB) van, and a lot of equipment and a large team of technicians to Thies in Senegal to provide the expected service. We received additional technical support from Radio and Television Service of Senegal (RTS) to make the live transmission possible. This operation was not cheap and GRTS spent a considerable sum of money in fuel for our vehicles, per diem payment for our staff and other expenses, but we regarded this as our duty as the national broadcaster to provide live coverages of all matches of the national team.

In addition to fulfilling a national duty, GRTS expected payment from CAF that would cover our cost at least. Therefore, we were shocked to hear during our meeting on the 19 January that by signing the relevant portion of the contract from CAF, GRTS had indicated its inability to provide live coverage of the match and therefore should not expect any payment. We would not have signed the contract if this was stated in writing. In addition, your official who brought us the contract reassured us that we would be receiving payment. This issue has brought misunderstanding between management and our board of directors which believes it was an unjustified expenditure. To resolve this matter once and for all, management would like GFF to consider refunding the cost we incurred in the operation amounting to D895, 240,00, to enable us to close our books on this matter. We deeply regret any misunderstanding that this issue may have created between the two organisations. You will agree that we have a common objective to promote Gambian football and nothing should divide us”.

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The Standard contacted the Gambia Football Federation GFF whose Secretary General and CEO, Lamin Jassey, said indeed he received the said letter but has since forwarded it to his higher authorities. He made no further comments.

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