Govt lobbies Sulom on club fees

Malawi Government on Wednesday claimed that Sulom has agreed to its proposal to reduce club affiliation fees to K100 000 ($600) from about K450 000 (about $2694) as one way of improving the flagship league teams’ finances.

 

While confirming that government had made the proposal through Youth Development and Sports Minister Symon Vuwa-Kaunda, Super League of Malawi (Sulom) president Innocent Bottomani said the issue is still under discussion.

The minister said the bulk of Super League clubs are battling a severe cash squeeze; hence, his ministry’s move to step in on affiliation fees.

Vuwa-Kaunda described the affiliation fee as too high for clubs, most of which have no sponsorship.

In an interview yesterday, Vuwa-Kaunda dismissed suggestions that his intervention might be viewed as political interference, saying: “As a ministry, our role is to formulate and guide on policy. Considering the difficulties that the teams are facing, we thought it wise to engage Sulom to consider reducing the affiliation fees to K100 000 ($600) each club.”

Most of the teams pay the affiliation fees from the K1 million subventions they get from sponsors TNM, who pump K60 million ($400 000) into the league.

“Sulom deducts almost half of the K1 million ($6 000) subvention fee each club gets from the sponsors. Now, is that fair to teams that are financially struggling such as Blantyre United, Embangweni, Big Bullets and Mighty Wanderers that have no sponsorship?” the minister wondered.

He also said Sulom is supposed to negotiate for the costs of the league’s administration with the league’s sponsor so that teams should not be at the receiving end.

Bottomani yesterday confirmed discussing the matter with government, but said it had not been concluded.

“It was also noted that it cannot be implemented without involving the sponsor of the league,” Bottomani said.

But Escom United chairperson Fanuel Nkhono and Big Bullets spokesperson Higger Mkandawire shared the minister’s sentiments.

Said Nkhono: “It is the duty of Sulom to negotiate for better sponsorship package with the sponsor to accommodate other expenses of running the league such as officiation which is the case in other countries such as South Africa.

“In our case, though, the sponsors of the league are not to blame. We appreciate the role that they [TNM] are playing in promoting local football, but it is up to Sulom to negotiate for a package that can help sustain the teams.”

On his part, Mkandawire said Sulom is supposed to meet costs of running the league and not extend the burden to the teams.

“Since the current sponsorship agreement [with TNM] is coming to an end, we hope Sulom will take that into consideration as they prepare to negotiate for another package,” Mkandawire said.

Bottomani said the issues raised by the clubs would also be taken into consideration.

TNM’s sponsorship and public relations manager Wilma Chalulu had not responded to a questionnaire sent yesterday regarding the issue.

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