Football Association of Malawi (FAM) delay to finalise a new national team kit deal has led to the Flames offering a free platform for Carlsberg advertising for nearly a year.
Carlsberg Malawi, now Castel Malawi Limited, in 2014 signed a three-year deal with FAM worth K150 million to be the official Flames sponsor.
All the Flames training and match kits were branded Carlsberg and a year after the deal expired, Malawi still uses the same kits.
It means the team has been wearing the same old kit supplied by Umbro, whose deal with FAM expired last year.
The recent use of the Carlsberg-branded training and match kits were the Under-20 before and during their encounter against Swaziland in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier at Bingu National Stadium (BNS) in Lilongwe last Saturday.
Asked if they had been paid anything by Carlsberg, FAM president Walter Nyamilandu said it was for free.
“It [the use of Carlsberg-branded jerseys] is for free as a gesture of goodwill [Carlsberg] being the last sponsor of the Flames,” said Nyamilandu.
FAM hopes to stop using the old kit once the new kit manufacturer International Sports Apparel Design Institute (Isadi) begins supplying the uniforms to the national team.
However, it has been over three months since FAM announced it had struck a deal with the sportswear supplier, raising fears that the deal might have collapsed as Flames had not received any new kit yet.
Parrying off the fears, Nyamilandu has said the new kit will be supplied this month.
“We are still committed to Isadi as our new kit sponsor. They will be shipping the first consignment this month. We plan to launch the kit in May,” he said.
Sports marketing consultant Felix Ngamanya Sapao said the use of Carlsberg-branded kit came because FAM could not manage to buy the training gear.
“The argument on goodwill doesn’t add up. FAM is simply offering free advertising because of poverty. They are trying to avoid buying new training and game kits,” he said.
Sapao also queried why FAM announced a deal with Isadi when it had not supplied the start-up equipment for the Flames.
“The best way was to wait until they provide provisional kits. Giving Carlsberg free advertising is not on. Flames is a big brand that must be put to good use,” he said.
Castel Malawi Limited corporate communications officer Towela Munthali said they have no problem with FAM’s continued use of Carlsberg-branded kits.
“Carlsberg supports football and as previous sponsors of the national team, it is alright if the team chooses to continue wearing the Carlsberg-branded kit,” she wrote in a response to our e-mailed questionnaire.
But she insisted that Castel does not harbour plans to resume sponsoring the Flames.
“As per our previous announcement, we are not currently planning to sponsor the national team. However, we are always looking for opportunities to contribute to football development.” n