Nyasa Big Bullets extraordinary general meeting (EGM) which approved the team’s takeover—a significant march towards its commercialisation—was, by the standards, mild and flat. There were no heated debates and pomp.
For once, the delegates behaved with utmost gentleness. Save for their largely sporty dressing, the supporters, who formed the bulk of the meeting, shared their ideas smartly like bank executives.
After years of protracted and sometimes bloody infighting and strong resistance against commercialisation, which resulted in nothing but deep poverty, things finally seem to be coming together at Bullets, the most successful club in the country.
Nyasa Manufacturing Company (NMC), which is already pumping K500 million into the club, has approved the proposal for the takeover.
The plans include construction of a 10 000-seater stadium, clearing the club’s debts estimated to be in the excess of K120 million and setting up of a training centre and purchasing of a state-of-the-art bus.
“Bullets will be one of the best clubs on the continent. We will have our own stadium, club houses in all the regions and a bus like the ones which teams like Arsenal, AC Milan and Kaizer Chiefs use,” Bullets chairperson Noel Lipipa, the key architect behind the takeover, told the delegates.
Given the committed manner in which Lipipa has been propagating NMC takeover promises, the general feeling is that Bullets will become as rich as globally known clubs like Barcelona.
The evidence is all over.
The EGM was nearly cancelled following the absence of the club’s trustees.
In protesting against the cancellation, Bullets main supporters committee general secretary Mabvuto Chibambo queried: “Let us proceed with the meeting because we have waited for so long to see our team be like Arsenal, Manchester United or Orlando Pirates.”
The last time Bullets was privatised in 2004 under Cifu Group, discontent mounted when the team faced endless financial problems. Supporters protested and Cifu quit unceremoniously.
Meanwhile, football expert Peterkins Kayira has warned that despite Bullets transition from a trusteeship to a business entity is going on smoothly, life may not be all rosy under NMC.
“The problem I have noted is that the expectations among supporters are very high because of the hype being created by those close to the deal. If these promises will not be fulfilled, I am afraid the discontent will bleed chaos,” Kayira warns.
The football administrator has advised Bullets to raise awareness among supporters that they need to be patient “for there will be ups and downs along the way”.
The delegates at the EGM expressed dissatisfaction over NMC’s commitment to construct a 10 000-seater stadium. Many felt it was too small for a big team like Bullets.
“Such complaints may continue. So, Nyasa Manufacturing Company must brace for negativity from some pockets at some point,” forecasts another soccer pundit Kim Kamau.
NMC marketing manager Steve Munthali also seemed to acknowledge that the road will not always be smooth after the takeover.
“We are not experts in running a football club. There will be challenges which we will need your support to conquer,” he said.
On fears that NMC might not fulfil all the promises, Lipipa says they will set up a committee that will be policing the implementation of the projects.
“We are optimistic that everything will go on smoothly because this committee will ensure that we are not losing track,” he says.
Bullets through rare unity have conquered the battle by approving the takeover but the war might not be over. n