Seven teams start league on empty coffers

The 2019 TNM Super League kicks off this afternoon with seven of the 16 teams confessing that they have little or no funds to take them through the entire season.

Self-sponsored outfits Mighty Tigers, Ntopwa FC, Dwangwa United, TN Stars, Karonga United, Mzuni FC and Chitipa FC have told Weekend Nation that they have been trying their best to source funding to meet their budgets, but the going continues to be tough.

Ntopwa (in green) are hoping to impress potential partners

Tigers’ technical director Robin Alufandika said they have set their budget for the new season at K100 million, but they do not have a single penny to help them start their campaign.

“At present, we have nothing in our pockets, but just as God looked after His people to walk from Egypt to Canaan, we will get to the finish line,” he said.

“This is a big team. Well-wishers will come to our rescue in these hard economic times. At present, our marketing team is still running up and down in search of resources.”

Ntopwa owner Isaac Jomo Osman, whose team is having a feel of the top-flight league for the first time and has a budget of about K50 million, said they hope to get partners along the way.

“We have nothing in our coffers, but we have a belief that some prospective partners would first want to watch a few

of our games in the elite league before they can commit their support. Therefore, we are hopeful that if we make impression in our first games, we will get the support. Otherwise, ligi timenya mopemphapempha momwemu,” he said.

As for Dwangwa, the club’s chairperson Arnold Zenizeni said their financial challenges are unbearable and they doubt if they would complete their journey in the new season.

He said: “Our budget is at K74 million, but we only have less than a million kwacha at hand. Only God knows if we can successfully fulfil all our fixtures. Many people in Dwangwa love their team as football is great entertainment in our community, but we are nothing without funds.”

Mzuni FC chairperson Albert Mtungambera Harawa said they are yet to estimate their budget for the entire season, but they do not have adequate funds, saying: “We have a cash budget of K2 million and, going forward, we would be using whatever we get towards our next match and move on”.

Karonga United FC chairperson Alufeyo Chipanga Banda said out of their total budget of over K80 million, they generated at least K12 million through fundraising activities, but most of which went towards beefing up their squad while TN Stars spokesperson Chifundo Kaliwo Nyirenda said they will work on a budget of around K70 million, but could not say how much they have at present as “we are still paying debts from the previous season”.

Super League of Malawi (Sulom) president Tiya Somba Banda said they are aware that some teams are struggling financially, but they are hopeful of their survival through gate revenue at their matches.

“At the moment, most of the teams might be seen as not having cash, but they will pick up as the league progresses through gate collections, which 90 percent of our teams rely on. Apart from that, we are trying to set up structures that will help them generate more income through merchandise, broadcast rights and other avenues,” he said.

But football analyst George Kaudza Masina yesterday said it is dangerous for clubs to begin their Super League campaign with serious financial challenges as this might lead them to have no competitive edge and end up donating points as was the case with the relegated side Nchalo United last season.

“Before a club can commit participation in an elite league, it has to demonstrate that they have a financial muscle to take them through. Most of our teams are not ready for the league’s kick off as they are not financially liquid,” he said.

“Sulom has to take a stand on teams without proper funding as it is a requirement for their registration into the elite league. Financial statement is a requirement for club licensing and most of these clubs have been licensed. Now one wonders how this was done if clubs are coming out clearly that they do not have enough for their 2019/20 budget,” he said.

Masina also said without the resources, clubs fail to motivate players “and the result is that they end up being mere participants and not competitors”.

Other teams such as Nyasa Big Bullets, Be Forward Wanderers, Silver Strikers, Blue Eagles, Civil Sporting Club, Moyale Barracks, Kamuzu Barracks and Masters Security have sponsorship, but some of them such as Wanderers and Masters said they still have a shortfall which they hope to source through commercial drives.

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