The TNM Super League Blantyre derby between Mighty Mukuru Wanderers and Nyasa Big Bullets at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre on Sunday grossed K44.8 million, about four times the K12.4 million generated in their first round meeting in March.
Ironically, both derbies pulled a large crowd and had similar gate charges.
The latest revenue, which saw the two sides getting K9.4 million each, is the highest from a single top-flight league match in recent years as it has beaten the K38.3 million record set during the October 2019 Blantyre derby.
“This is a record-breaker. It looks good that football is back with improving value. The stadium was fully packed and a very big number of supporters was denied entry,” Super League of Malawi (Sulom) treasurer Malinda Chinyama said.
Wanderers’ spokesperson Ernest Maganga and Bullets chief administration officer Albert Chigoga yesterday described the big improvement as proof that gate fraud is being eradicated at Kamuzu Stadium, where some gate cashiers were recently convicted and sentenced for the crime.
Maganga said, being the hosts, Wanderers engaged a new private company to manage the gates and he commended the firm for a wonderful job.
“We all know that management of gates has always been synonymous with ‘Kutola khobwe’ [thievery]. We are happy that this didn’t happen yesterday. We should also thank football lovers that flocked to the stadium,” he said.
However, Maganga said they could have made more money had they embraced electronic ticketing.
“In this day and age, we should be talking about going electronic. There are gadgets these days that will detect fake tickets. Why should tickets be sold on the same day? We need to improve in that area,” he said.
Chigoga said it is good to note that strides made to avert gate fraud are beginning to yield the desired outcome.
“The difference in gate revenue realised between our first round derby and the second round meeting speaks volumes of how people could make inferences as to what exactly went wrong and what is now working well,” he said.
The record Super League gross comes in a season that has already witnessed a big improvement of overall gate revenue as compared to the poor collections last season as a result of the impact of Covid-19.
By the end of the first round some weeks ago, the league’s gate collection was K308 million, almost four times to the K78.5 million realised in the entire 2021 season.
But are the enhanced gate revenues helping to improve the welfare of
Super League players, some of which are suffering in unpaid wages due to their clubs’ recent poor income?
“Not at all! Most players are either paid poorly or are still unpaid for months by some clubs. It is sad that the clubs continue exploiting the players despite the improved economic environment in the football arena,” Football Players Association general secretary Ernest Mangani said yesterday.
“We have noted the revenue improvement and while we congratulate Sulom and clubs for this, we would like to plead that the achievement should trickle down to our players. They contribute significantly to this success but are not rewarded fairly.”
He said Super League players continue to experience poor remuneration and salaries, observing that the footballers are just being used as revenue generators for Sulom, teams and other stakeholders.
“Our biggest call is for all stakeholders to stand and force Sulom to be a commercial entity immediately so that volumes of money that are being realised should be channelled into an organisation that has a chief executive officer and qualified Board of directors.
This will create sustainable jobs for our members and in turn improve the quality of football in the country,” Mangani explained.