Regional leagues take hardline

Eighteen  Chitetezo Mbaula and Simama and Sons (Simso) regional league teams risk expulsion unless they pay K12.9 million fines for absconding matches while four Chipiku Stores League outfits have been kicked out for similar offences.

Southern Region Football Association (SRFA) chairperson Raphael Humba yesterday said the eight Chitetezo Mbaula Division One League teams failed to honour 27 second round fixtures each in the 2018 season and they will be required to pay K50 000 for each absconded game before the start of the 2019 season in three months time or they will be thrown out of the league.

The development means Trouble Makers, Kim Stars, Zomba Foundation Academy, Green Hawks, Migowi, Bonteck, Jali United and Chazunda United have to pay K1.35 million each.

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In the 22-team Premier Division, Jali Rangers are supposed to pay a K400 000 fine for not honouring eight fixtures while Nsanama FC has to cough K150 000 for not playing three matches. Mangochi United, Mangochi Challengers and Steffords have each been fined K100 000 for absconding two games whereas Chikwawa United need to pay K50 000 for absconding a single game.

“Apart from paying registration fees, which we are planning to increase from K160 000 to K180 000 in Division One and from K180 000 to K200 000 in Premier Division, these teams will have to pay the fines in full as well to secure their slots for next season,” Humba said.

Jali United coach Joel Singano said his team cannot afford to pay the fine and they will have no option but to leave the stage.

“We failed to play our second round games because of financial constraints. We pleaded with the [SRFA] to excuse us from the remaining games so we could raise enough money for next season. Now, with these repulsive fines, I do not see ourselves playing in the league next season,” he said.

SRFA vice-general secretary Kingsley Simbeye added that they would also have a meeting after the 2018 season’s prize presentation on Monday to decide whether teams that fail to pay the fines should be replaced.

Northern Region Football Association (NRFA) general secretary Masiya Nyasulu said four Simso League teams, namely Kabwafu, Nkhata Bay United, Ekwendeni Hammers and Luwinga United failed to honour three games each and will have to pay K100 000 fine per game if they are to be allowed back.

“Towards the end of the 2018 season, we saw some teams failing to fulfil some of their fixtures after they lost hope that their standings on the log table would not change for the better. But that is not allowed in our league and they have to pay the fines,” he said.

Central Region Football Association (CRFA) vice-general secretary Antonio Manda said in the 22-team Chipiku Stores Division Two League, Ntchisi United, Thandizo Orphans FC and Akamwire FC did not fulfil six games each and, as such, they have been expelled.

“In our league, discipline is of paramount importance and we cannot allow teams to abscond games without giving proper reasons. The three teams have been booted out of our system,” he said.

However, he hailed Premier and Division One teams for fulfilling all their fixtures.

Meanwhile, the three regional leagues say they will put in place stringent measures to ensure only teams capable of fulfilling their fixtures are registered for next season.

Humba said: “For the coming season, we want the SRFA league teams to first pay their registration fees in full before kickoff and they should write us a commitment letter to prove that they will be able to fulfil all their fixtures.”

On his part, Nyasulu said NRFA will be strict on demanding declaration of the clubs’ financial position.

As for the CRFA league, Manda said: “Prior to the 2019 season, we will enter into serious agreement with teams and we will engage their sponsors to sign declaration forms, which will stipulate that failure to complete fixtures will attract hefty punishment.”

When asked why they do not consider changing the format to allow teams that are in neighbouring districts first play on round robin basis and produce champions that should compete in regional play-offs to cut travel costs, the regional associations said although such arrangement is good, it can hardly be practical.

“We once discussed that arrangement but we realised that was extremely difficult because our teams are very scattered in districts; for instance, we have two teams in Mangochi but none available in the neighbouring districts of Machinga and Balaka. Moreover, most of our teams are based in Blantyre and the play-offs’ format cannot work,” Humba said.

But football analyst George Kaudza Masina said the failure of some teams to complete their fixtures on financial grounds has far reaching consequences on the Flames’ performance as only teams with good financial muscle will have their players spotted by the national team technical panels, leaving those more talented.

“As such, it is imperative for the regional leagues to make sure that only clubs with financial capacity are allowed to participate in the league for the sake of fair competition because some teams might be declared champions not because they played well but due to the free points acquired as a result of other teams’ failure to turn up for matches,” he said. n

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