FAM and Sulom have admitted that the K1 million surety which clubs pay as a guarantee to meet financial demands that come with playing in the flagship TNM Super League is far too little.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) licencing and compliance manager Casper Jangale and Super League of Malawi (Sulom) general secretary (GS) Williams Banda made the admission when Weekend Nation inquired on the plans they have put in place ahead of the forthcoming season to ensure that clubs are financially ready after two teams—Dwangwa United and Nchalo United—nearly withdrew due to financial constraints last season.
In the 2017 season Blantyre United also pulled out only to be bailed out by well-wishers while in 2016 Max Bullets departed the stage in the first-round.
Jangale conceded on Wednesday that they take a soft approach when it comes to scrutiny of teams on their financial preparedness under the club licensing system (CLS).
“Honestly, we have to admit that the K1 million that we use as a yardstick is by far on the lower side. Realistically, K10 million to K15 million should have been the benchmark so that teams could be refunded at the end of the first-round to ensure that they meet their obligations, including paying their players and technical staff.
“But then looking at the current financial situation for most of the teams, they cannot afford that. About two years ago, the surety was pegged at K2 million, but most of the teams protested vehemently forcing us to reduce it by half. So, unless something is done, the situation won’t change,” he said.
The fee was reduced following the intervention of FAM president Walter Nyamilandu.
On his part, Banda blamed the situation on FAM, saying they run the show under the CLS.
“FAM requires K1 million guarantee under club licensing. I don’t know whether the amount is enough for the whole season,” he said.
Banda said being licensed is not enough for clubs to take it as a guarantee to survive the financial demands that come with the top-flight league.
“Football Association of Malawi, through the Football Licensing Board, looks at whether the clubs will manage to pay their players and meet operational costs or not. We have nothing to do about it after clubs are licensed because it is not done by us,” he said.
The Sulom GS, however, said this time around, they will assess clubs that will be issued licenses to determine their financial preparedness.
Banda also said Sulom will meet FAM and clubs separately to analyse the teams’ preparedness.
On the struggle of teams, especially those promoted from the lower leagues, the Sulom general secretary attributes the problem to lack of sponsorship.
Teams require not less than K75 million to meet the demands of playing in the flagship league, but only the big ones that have sound sponsorship and following such as Nyasa Big Bullets, Be Forward Wanderers, Silver, Strikers, Civil Sporting Club, Blue Eagles, Moyale Barracks and Kamuzu Barracks are guaranteed such kind of money.
The rest rely on either individual sponsorship or well-wishers and apart from Kasungu-based TN Stars, they earned less than K7 million from gate collections last season.
TN Stars publicity secretary Chifundo Nyirenda also attributed ‘smaller’ teams’ struggles to lack of sponsorship.
“Last season we had a budget of K60 million but we had an outstanding K20 million debt to pay. The team is helped by an individual and partners and players do appreciate our problems,” he said.
Karonga United chairperson Alufeyo Chipanga Banda also said they have a K10 million starter-pack against a budget of K74 million they have prepared.
“Each and every team is struggling, but our team is supported by the community. We will be able to source money just as we did last year,” said Banda whose team owes players about K10 million from last season.
Chitipa United general secretary Pickford Kamanga admitted that it will be an uphill task to play in the Super League.
“It’s not going to be easy, but we believe that with God’s grace, we will manage just as we did in 2017. This is a community team and we are looking for well-wishers to assist us towards our budget of about K90 million,” he said.
Football analyst George Kaudza Masina said FAM and Sulom need to appreciate that local football is not ready to turn professional.
“The truth is that our football has a long way to go before it can turn professional because the clubs do not have the financial capacity.
“Elsewhere, teams declare their financial standings which are scrutinised before they can be accepted to take part in an elite league, but with due respect ours is more or less social football, otherwise how does one explain a team paying player K10 000 for the whole season?” he wondered. n