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Tottenham Sponsorship Row: Patricia De Lille Says SA Tourism Deal With Spurs Should Be Stopped

South African Tourism’s sponsorship deal with Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur could be scrapped, with the country’s tourism minister describing it as “unlawful and invalid” after taking legal advice.

Patricia de Lille, who was appointed on 6 March as part of a cabinet reshuffle, said she had advised SA Tourism to halt proceedings around the deal.

The three-year shirt sleeve sponsorship deal is valued at about $51m.

Addressing a media briefing in Pretoria, De Lille said the government had to be “much more careful and give careful consideration” in everything it does.

“Money must be used wisely and prudently as we are instructed to look after public funds,” she added.

“The SA Tourism board approved the proposed deal subject to consultation with the minister of tourism and minister of finance. My advice to the board is to stop proceeding with the deal.”

SA Tourism has provisionally agreed a deal with Tottenham which would start for the 2023-24 season and conclude in 2026-27.

De Lille said she had written a letter to the chair of SA Tourism on 22 March and had given him until 29 March to respond.

De Lille said she had sought legal advice immediately after her appointment by President Cyril Ramaphosa, and that provided three reasons why the sponsorship was unlawful and invalid.

These include that the sponsorship contravenes the country’s Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) and SA Tourism’s own supply chain management policy.

“It appears the sponsorship is a service proposed to be acquired by procurement through ‘sole source’ which is only allowed where there is no competition in the market to provide the goods or services, which does not appear to be the case here,” said De Lille.

She added the sponsorship had not been budgeted for as required by the PFMA and that a deal of that magnitude required her prior approval.

Based on an interim response that De Lille received before the media briefing, the minister advised the organisation’s board “that the proposal may as well be stopped completely”.

The Daily Maverick website first highlighted the controversial deal on 31 January after obtaining leaked documents from unnamed members of the SA Tourism board. Three members of the board resigned in the days that followed.

The proposed deal has caused a huge uproar across the country, particularly from cash-strapped national sports federations and labour unions, who believe the money would be better spent elsewhere.

Source : BBC